By JENNIFER MESCHINELLI Press-Republican and SUZANNE MOORE, News Editor
---- — KEESEVILLE — Veterans Park here is ready to go; Deborah and Larry Mills strung holiday lights there earlier this week.
Keesville Mayor Dale Holderman has kept busy with the same task, working Thursday to adorn the last few trees on Front Street.
The last finishing touches were applied to storefront windows decorated by Keeseville Elementary School students with help from art teacher Kelly Fitz.
“They look wonderful,” Mrs. Mills said.
Called “Let’s Light Up the Night,” the first-time holiday event is set for 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday in the village. It was born of brainstorming ideas during a Keeseville Revitalization Committee meeting, Mrs. Mills said. Over the past year, Christmas had come up several times, and someone suggested the desire for an organized effort to decorate for the holidays.
In September, she suggested lighting up the trees, and the event grew from there.
“It’s a beautiful little village, and it’s sweeping us away how many people want this to happen,” she said. “People are really in the mood for this event.”
A plea was sent out to business owners and individuals to sponsor a tree with lights.
“The response has been heart-warming, enthusiastic and delightful,” said Mrs. Mills, who co-chairs the event with her husband. “Other groups and individuals have come forward to volunteer — there has been a great feeling of resurgence.”
The LED lights on nine Front Street trees and in the park will blaze to life at about 5 p.m., “after it’s good and dark,” she said.
But first, a Holiday Market of vendors will offer wares from a few of the empty storefronts on Front Street and from tables on the sidewalk.
For sale will be Christmas cookies and other baked goods, holiday greens, herbs and “all kinds of seasonal gifts and crafts,” Mrs. Mills said.
Community Supportive Agriculture farm the Fledgling Crow will be there with its products, as well.
The Boy Scouts will sell doughnuts and cider; Stewart’s Shop will offer grilled hot dogs and hamburgers on one end of the block; and activities will take place at the Methodist Church on the other end.
Barb Davidson, owner of several Front Street storefronts, donated the market space. Music will fill the air, provided by a DJ, and pony rides will be available on Front Street near Adirondack Hardware.
Individuals and businesses put up sponsorship for the trees; the lights were purchased at a discounted rate through Roger Long of Adirondack Hardware.
Holderman hopes the event will help bring together a community that for all appearances has had too much working against it lately.
“It’s time, as a community, to come back together to enjoy the season,” he said. “That’s what the holidays are all about.”
The village will be kicking off the season a little early, with Thanksgiving yet to come, but the hope was to have the event “before people got too busy with the holidays,” Mrs. Mills said.
“We wanted to do it before it gets too cold, and people go away for the holidays,” Holderman said. “We are working hard to revitalize the village. We are hoping this will be the start of more community events.”
Organizers hope “Let’s Light” becomes even bigger in 2013.
“We won’t close down the street this year,” Holderman said. “But maybe next year.”
HOW TO HELP
Donations are still accepted to support "Let's Light Up Keeseville," though 40 canisters around the village will be picked up sometime today.
Checks can be mailed to: Friends of the North Country, attn: Melissa Furnia, P.O. Box 446, 1 Mill St., Keeseville, NY 12944.