JUST IN TIME for Sunday’s holiday tree lighting by the Chamber of Commerce, the elves from the town’s DPW strung festive lights on the trees surrounding the town common. It also gave them a chance to use the bucket truck to prune back dead branches. (Maureen Doherty Photo)

NORTH READING — The annual Holiday Tree Lighting on the North Reading Town Common, a cherished family tradition, returns this Sunday, November 26 from 2–4:30 p.m.

Presented free of charge by the Reading-North Reading Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with a generous slate of business sponsors, the celebration includes Santa photos, a horse drawn hay ride, trolley rides, live entertainment and performances, strolling characters, live ice sculptors, free hot chocolate, face painting, and more.

The festivities will culminate at dusk when Santa officially lights the Christmas tree and the trees bordering the Town Common to celebrate the holiday season.

“This event is possible year after year thanks to our generous sponsors, local businesses and town departments,” said Chamber President.Catherine Barton Rosetti. “The Chamber would like to thank presenting sponsor Reading Cooperative Bank, for their support of this family-friendly event.”

Townspeople can park at North Reading High School where the trolley will shuttle them back and forth to the Town Common and Reading Coop, where photographs with Santa will take place. Look for the horse drawn hay rides along Park Street near the library too.

This year marks the 18th year that the Chamber has organized the Holiday Tree Lighting celebration to highlight the vibrant local community and North Reading’s historic Town Common. In years 15 and 16, during a COVID-induced hiatus, the trees were still lit for the holiday season but the Chamber offered a Santa parade throughout the town’s neighborhoods in lieu of public tree lighting ceremonies. Last year everyone was excited to participate in the in-person event again.

For additional information about the event visit the calendar page of the Chamber website at www.readingnreadingchamber.org or call Jamie Bradley at 978-664-5060.

Town’s historic buildings also open

Concurrently during the Chamber’s Holiday Tree Lighting festivities, the North Reading Historical and Antiquarian Society and the Minit & Militia will both be hosting holiday Open Houses in the historic buildings on the Bow Street side of the Town Common.

The 1720 Rev. Daniel Putnam House, 27 Bow St., will be open from 2 – 4 p.m. with the Putnam House decorated Victorian-style. Historical Society members will be offering homemade cookies in honor of late member Pat Romeo and distributing reindeer dust to honor the memory of late member Gloria Mastro. Additionally, Historical Society merchandise will be available at the Putnam House with all proceeds going toward the upkeep of the Putnam House properties and historic town antiquities.

The Historical Society will open the Damon Tavern, also on Bow Street, to the public, which will be decorated for the holidays, so stop by for a tour!

Minit & Militia Open House

Additionally, the other historic buildings on the grounds of the Putnam House will be open and manned by members of the Minit and Militia, from 2–4:30 p.m.

These buildings include the West Village Schoolhouse, Flint House, First Meeting House, Cobbler/Tin Shop and Farm Museum.

“Hot chocolate will be served in the Schoolhouse and cider will be available in the Flint House,” said Militia Capt. Rich Stratton. The Minitmen have ensured that the Schoolhouse is accessible to all by adding a permanent ramp at the front entrance.