hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA


December 12, 2013

Christmas trees keep Buttonwoods merry

You don’t have to travel far to reach Santa’s Village.

Just kick up your heels and head toward 240 Water St. and you’ll stumble upon a veritable fantasy land filled with decorated Christmas trees and just about every other holiday trinket.

It’s the 12th annual “Christmas at the Buttonwoods — the Festival of Trees.” And this museum is nothing short of festivity and merriment.

Giving credit where it’s due, assistant curator and tree honcho Tom Spitalere has done another incredible job showcasing this bonanza for the public that even Santa might be a tad envious of.

From the very first festival a dozen years ago when 20 trees were raffled off, now we have 130 of these beauties, joined by wreaths and centerpieces designed to make any home more elaborate for your Christmas enjoyment.

Over the years, some $100,000 has been raised to keep this museum solvent. In the words of six-year curator Jan Williams, it’s the best Christmas gift any city landmark could receive. Money goes toward maintenance and upkeep of the property.

“To be quite honest about it, this museum would be seriously impacted without this festival,” Williams admits. “People are thrilled to have a Buttonwoods tree in their home, knowing it’s doing our establishment some good.”

Most inspiring are the innovative ways people decorate these trees and the creativity that prevails.

“Look at the ideas and you’ll see some incredible themes,” Williams says.

As for Spitalere, he, too, is enamored by all this as Christmas takes on a year-long approach. He starts planning in January and finishes in December, just in time to get another round going.

At noon on Thursday of this week, a children’s scavenger hunt takes place there until 8 p.m., followed by a senior citizens day Friday the 13th (no bad omen here folks!). Accordionist Paul Gosselin will be performing throughout the day (10 a.m. to 8 p.m.), with prizes going to the best elf costume.

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