WHITMAN — What began as a fundraiser to lift the spirits of town as COVID-19 took a toll on social interaction as well as public health, the Dollars for Scholars Holiday Tree Lighting events has expanded as it returns for its third holiday season this weekend.
All proceeds from the event benefits Dollars for Scholars scholarship awards. While admission is free, donations are welcome and raffles will also be held.
“Every year we raise a lot of money for the seniors in Whitman and Hanson through fundraising and door-to-door,” DFS member Michelle LaMattina told Selectmen in Ocober 2020 when she first proposed the event. “We’re trying to make something exciting for the town to look forward to. … Nice, a little bit competitive, but also socially distanced. … We’re looking for it to be a nice event to brighten everybody’s holidays a little.”
Enterainment on Saturday will include visits by Santa, the Grinch and Cindy-Lou Who as well as the Whitman-Hanson HS band and Aidan Keene.
A Holiday Tree Lighting hours will be 4 to 7:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 9; 2 to 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10 and from 4 to 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 11 — rain or Shine all three days.
As the event has grown, a vendor event in Town Hall from 2 to 8 p.m., on Saturday, Dec. 10 featuring 25 vendors for holiday shopping.
Individuals, families, neighborhoods, clubs, organizations or companies to were able to sponsor a tree for $100. DFS provided the trees and lights, setting them up after Thanksgiving. Sign-up times were allotted to tree sponsors to come and decorate the tree to their liking. And in the past two years, there have already become some favorites, such as the tree decorated by a Hanson group of Barry Manilow fans, called the “Fanilows.”
“There’s a lot of returning tree people,” LaMattina said. “It’s kind of nice that we get the same people, but a few new people too.”
The refreshment options have also grown, from the handful of booths and food trucks in 2020 to variety of food options each day. On Friday there will be Mom on the Go, Dilly Dilly Donuts and Loco Larry’s Tacos. Saturday offers Mom on the Go, Lolly Jolly Waffles, Perfetcly Flavah Café and Rocking Burger. Sunday’s fare is Mom on the Go and Dilly Dilly Donuts.
Weather has been a challenge during the event’s first two years, but organizers have been keeping watch on the forecast.
“So far, it’s looked good,” LaMattina said. “We’re still definitely going to have it even if it rains, because we’ll have the inside stuff.”
Premium sponsors for the event include Richard Rosen, North Easton Savings Bank and Egan Realty.
— Tracy F. Seelye