Ever since we’ve had a “Gazebo” in the middle of town, we’ve had a “tree lighting.” The Lisbon Falls Baptist Church sings Christmas carols and serves hot chocolate and cookies; when everyone has sung through all the songs they know, a big fire truck comes up Route 196 with its sirens wailing. The firemen park the truck and Santa descends with his pack of toys. He lights the big Christmas tree and then sits in the Gazebo, visiting with the little ones from town.
My friend Faye used to be involved in planning this small town event and sometimes, she would make some of her beautiful painted cookies to go along with the Baptist hot chocolate. She always made sure Santa looked just right and she made sure the fire truck drove up the road at just the right time with the perfect amount of drama.
After this, Santa would get back on the fire truck and go to the fire station. There he would sit, posing for pictures. Not surprisingly, I’ve got a few pictures of Santa and me.
I’m not sure I’ve ever mentioned this, but my friend Faye is actually an honorary member of the fire department. There was a fire near her house once and she ran out and banged on the door of the burning house and woke up the sleeping people inside. She saved their lives, just like that.
Having a fire fighting friend is a good thing.
The best tree lighting I can remember was in either 2009 or 2010. Everything happened just as I’ve described, except when Santa arrived it began to snow ever so lightly and it was like being inside one of those snow globes; it was beautiful. There was also a good-looking and chatty fireman waiting for Santa to finish his visit to the Gazebo and we talked and laughed about absolutely nothing.
Santa left; Faye and I followed His Jolliness down to the fire station and had our pictures taken with him. Since Faye knew all the firemen, we got talking about how fun it might be to take a spin around town in a fire truck, what with the snow being so pretty and dream-like and all. We were certainly in luck that particular evening because sometimes firemen have to take the equipment out for a spin.
I can’t remember if it was Engine 7 or Rescue 10, but it was a very big fire fighting machine. Faye and I climbed in and sat in the back two jump seats; the front seats seemed like they were miles away. Then we buckled up and put on our headsets, which allowed us to talk to the firemen sitting in the front of the truck.
We left the station and slowly chugged up Main Street for a mile or two. We took a left onto the Gould Road, still chugging a bit up the hill past Little Ridge Farm. When we hit the intersection of Route 9, we slowly turned left and headed back towards town; it was mostly downhill at this point and the rest of the short ride back to the station remains a little blurry, like the occasional snowflakes splatting against the truck’s windshield.
Even though I didn’t have a blog then, I filed the story in my memory bank under the heading “life sure is fun in a small town.”
Following this adventure, the Lisbon Fire Department did not make me an honorary member of their corps; I’m one of their biggest fans anyway. That one little zip around town was all it took.
Riding in a fire truck was exciting; the only other thing that could possibly top it would be riding in one of those big plow trucks that sweep snow off the main roads and interstates. Faye isn’t an honorary member of the public works department yet, so I guess I’ll have to keep scheming.
The tree lighting has changed a bit in the last year; it’s now called “A Very Merry Main Street” and we light a tree at what used to be the Marion T. Morse Elementary School, or “The MTM Center.” On Saturday, December 1, 2012, the Lisbon Falls Baptist church will start singing at 4:30 p.m. and Santa will light the town tree at 5:00 p.m.
There will be free horse-drawn wagon rides around town, too, sponsored by Fern’s Auto Body. I think I’m going to take one of those free rides; you never know what might happen. It just might be more fun than a ride in a fire truck.
If you’re in Lisbon Falls late Saturday afternoon, stop by the MTM Center. I’ll see you there!