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Burning bright for a cause

One way Charlemont fuels plans for 250th

  • Recorder/Geoff Bluh<br/>A Christmas tree bonfire warms a small crowd of onlookers with brilliant flames on Saturday evening during a fundraiser event for the Charlemont 250th anniversary; this is the second year for the post -holiday bonfire which uses tossed out Christmas trees for fuel.<br/>

    Recorder/Geoff Bluh
    A Christmas tree bonfire warms a small crowd of onlookers with brilliant flames on Saturday evening during a fundraiser event for the Charlemont 250th anniversary; this is the second year for the post -holiday bonfire which uses tossed out Christmas trees for fuel.

  • Recorder/Geoff Bluh<br/>A Christmas tree bonfire warms a small crowd of onlookers with brilliant flames on Saturday evening during a fundraiser event for the Charlemont 250th anniversary; this is the second year for the post -holiday bonfire which uses tossed out Christmas trees for fuel.<br/>

    Recorder/Geoff Bluh
    A Christmas tree bonfire warms a small crowd of onlookers with brilliant flames on Saturday evening during a fundraiser event for the Charlemont 250th anniversary; this is the second year for the post -holiday bonfire which uses tossed out Christmas trees for fuel.

  • Recorder/Geoff Bluh<br/>A Christmas tree bonfire warms a small crowd of onlookers with brilliant flames on Saturday evening during a fundraiser event for the Charlemont 250th anniversary; this is the second year for the post -holiday bonfire which uses tossed out Christmas trees for fuel.<br/>
  • Recorder/Geoff Bluh<br/>A Christmas tree bonfire warms a small crowd of onlookers with brilliant flames on Saturday evening during a fundraiser event for the Charlemont 250th anniversary; this is the second year for the post -holiday bonfire which uses tossed out Christmas trees for fuel.<br/>

CHARLEMONT — The fire at Hawlemont Regional School Saturday could be seen from the slopes of Berkshire East Ski Area and the cheers of schoolchildren may have carried that far as well.

Responsible adults nearby stoked the blaze and dozens gathered around to warm themselves by the flames of the town’s second annual Christmas Tree Bonfire.

In all, about 115 Christmas trees were decked in the lights of glowing orange embers as their needles went up in smoke and flames, up from 84 trees burned last year.

“My pickup holds 24 trees, and I took four full loads,” said fire tender and 250th Anniversary Committee member Vaughn Tower.

Tower scoured the streets of Charlemont and Greenfield to find those 96 spruces and firs, scooping them up before the trash men came.

The bonfire was a fundraiser for the town’s 250th anniversary celebrations. There were hot dogs, snacks, cocoa and coffee, donated to the cause and available for whatever people wanted to donate.

Though Charlemont won’t turn 250 until June 21, 2015, it’s never too early to start saving up. It’s never too early to start planning, either.

Charlemont’s 250th Anniversary Committee formed in November of 2011 and its first event was last year’s inaugural bonfire.

“We have a lot of ideas for events, but nothing’s set in stone yet,” said Jerry Gosetti, co-chair of the committee.

Those ideas include a bicycle race, a parade and an official ceremony.

“We hope to coordinate a downtown arts festival with local and non-local artists, like they do on the common in Amherst,” said co-chair Kim Blakeslee. “We’d also like to do a black-tie affair.”

A series of historic bus tours is also in the works, said Blakeslee.

All these things cost money, and Gosetti said they’re relying on donors, sponsors, and fundraisers, rather than seeking town money.

“It’s really grass-roots fundraising; most of the donors are people in town,” he said.

Their most successful fundraiser was October’s “Blue Moon Bingo,” held outdoors at the Charlemont Fairgrounds and attended by about 80 people.

“We’d like to find some corporate sponsors for our events, too,” said Gosetti.

Gosetti said the committee has raised about $1,500 in the first year, and he hopes to double that by next year’s bonfire.

Though it started as a fundraiser, Gosetti and others agreed it doesn’t have to stop after the anniversary.

“It’s a fundraiser, but it’s also a great community get-together,” he said. He also hopes those who come out for other 250th events will keep coming back to the town.

“We want to put Charlemont on the center of the map,” said Gosetti. He said capitalizing on the town’s wealth of outdoor recreational activities is key to that goal.

For the latest on the upcoming anniversary events, visit www.Charlemont250.org, or look up “Charlemont celebration” on Facebook. If you’d like to offer your ideas, help, or sponsorship, email Charlemont250@yahoo.com.

David Rainville can be reached at:
drainville@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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