By Frank Lewis
Remember when the community used to come together for events at Christmas time? It is Portsmouth City Councilman Kevin E. Johnson’s dream to make that happen again.
“It’s a Market Square Christmas tree lighting in conjunction with the Jaycees annual Christmas parade,” Johnson said. “The event will be immediately after the Christmas parade on Nov. 19. Dave Duncan of Papa John’s is supplying free pizzas. There will be hot chocolate and coffee.”
Johnson said the Salvation Army would be there with their kettle set up, ringing their bells as they do every year throughout the community.
“Sarah Surina of Main Street Portsmouth is helping us with a flatbed,” Johnson said. “We’re going to have some music there.”
The event, to be held on the vacant lot next to Toytown on Market Street at Second Street, will be centered around a community Christmas tree.
“It (tree) is being donated by Rick Fraley,” Johnson said. “We’re going to go pick it out Friday night. It’s going to be somewhere between 15 and 20 feet.”
Johnson said Bill Beaumont and employees from the City Service Department will stand and secure the tree. Portsmouth Fire Chief Bill Raison is going to have members of his department put the lights and the top ornaments on the tree.
“That evening we’re going to finish with the ornaments,” Johnson said. “They’ll have ladders down there and we’ll let folks from the community hand them ornaments to put on the tree. We’re asking the folks to donate the ornaments and bring some that night, or they can drop them off to the City Clerk (Diana Ratliff) before the event.”
Johnson said those organizing the event have reached out to the Portsmouth City School District, East schools, Holy Redeemer and STEM, asking the students to make weather-durable ornaments, such as using cans, two liter bottles, etc. painted up with school colors or teachers names or any of that type of creation.
“We’ll also have those on the tree that night,” Johnson said.
Johnson said it is strictly a community volunteer event and he thanked Mark Harris of Toytown for the use of the lot adjacent to his store. Johnson said there may be a surprise tree-lighter, but would not elaborate, saying folks should turn out and participate in the program.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.