Passing the torch: Easthampton’s floating Christmas tree relaunched

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  • Paul Nowak pilots a boat keeping a raft in place while on it Aaron Lempke, left, and Mike Broussard of the Williston Northampton School and Patrick Brough, right, secure the four lines anchoring it during the installation of a floating Christmas Tree on Nashawannuck Pond on Friday. Nowak and Brough are coworkers at Finck and Perras Insurance Agency. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Michelle Liu and Jim Soja of Easthampton watch the installation of the floating Christmas Tree on Nashawannuck Pond on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Michelle Liu and Jim Soja of Easthampton watch the installation of the floating Christmas Tree on Nashawannuck Pond on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • A group carry the tree and raft into the water at Nashawannuck Pond in Easthampton. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • The launching of the Christmas tree into Nashawannuck Pond in Easthampton. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Paul Nowak gets the lines ready that will anchor the raft in preparation for the tree launching on Nashawannuck Pond in Easthampton. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • The launching of the Christmas tree into Nashawannuck Pond in Easthampton. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 11/21/2020 11:21:08 AM

EASTHAMPTON — The Christmas tree at Nashawannuck Pond is back a year after being discontinued.

“A lot of people happened to notice,” said resident Paul Nowak, referring to the tree’s absence last year after more than two decades.

Volunteers brought the tradition back this year, launching the Christmas tree into the pond on Froday. “I am beyond excited,” said Marylou Dodge, who is helping out with the effort.

Nowak and Patrick Brough are taking over the floating Christmas tree tradition from Mike Lavalle, who started it in the 1990s but decided last year to step away from the role.

“We decided we would try to carry the torch,” Nowak said.

Brough reached out to Lavalle a few weeks ago, who agreed to provide the materials that he’d used before.

“It’s been a great tradition that he started,” Brough said. “Having it not there kind of sucked.”

LaValle said that he was happy to pass it on.

“I’m kind of excited to do something else on these weekends,” he said. “It was a lot of fun all those years.”

He said he’d been inspired to start the tradition by memories of Christmas trees being floated into the Connecticut River.

“A lot of people are going to be helping to make it happen,” said Brough, speaking before Friday’s launch.

Nowak and Brough are coworkers at Finck and Perras Insurance Agency, and they also were part of the team that lit Easthampton’s Christmas Star earlier this year, in order to provide comfort and joy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nowak said that the return of the floating Christmas tree will lift people’s spirits “probably even more so.”

“It compliments the star,” he said.

Another person involved with the star lighting, Police Chief Robert Alberti, is involved with the Christmas tree as well.

“Keeping the tree on the pond will hopefully help keep people’s spirits up this holiday season,” he said.

The Williston Northampton School has also been helping out with the relaunch of the tradition, Nowak said. And Dodge said that the school has been providing equipment for the project.

Whiteley Electric is helping to light the tree.

As a member of the Nashawannuck Pond Steering Committee, Nowak said the relaunch of the tradition is a way of giving back to the community for supporting the pond.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.




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