Demand for trees exceeds supply at Monastery

Demand for trees exceeds supply at Monastery

Grandparents, mother, father, brother and cousins of Emily Otrando, of Cumberland, who died in September of 2014 at the age of 10, decorate a tree in her memory at the Monastery in Cumberland last Saturday. Theirs is among 137 decorated trees that will be illuminated this Sunday at 5 p.m. and continue to be on display through Christmas. (Breeze photos by Charles Lawrence)
Winter Wonderland display will be lit at Sunday ceremony

CUMBERLAND – Members of the Cumberland Parks and Recreation Department say the annual Christmas tree program at the Monastery has become so popular that they didn’t even advertise it this year.

In total, 137 “adopted” trees will be lit up during a ceremony this Sunday, Dec. 10, at 5 p.m. Mickey G’s Clam Shack will be selling food starting at 4 p.m.

Michael Crawley, parks and recreation director for the town, told The Valley Breeze that the number “could’ve been well over 200 trees” if he had promoted the Winter Wonderland event at 1464 Diamond Hill Road, but officials continue to be limited by a lack of electrical capacity at the town park.

“Each year, it just keeps getting bigger and bigger,” he said.

Most trees that are purchased and decorated in the Winter Wonderland at the Monastery are memorial trees, put up in memory of a loved one. There are also a handful of trees sponsored by businesses, as well as trees put up by friends.

Buying a Christmas tree at the Monastery costs $30, with the exception of the pre-lit LED trees, which are $40.

All but two of the available trees were spoken for by September, in this, the fifth year of the event. Crawley said Winter Wonderland started with about 50 trees back in 2013.

Trees stay lit throughout the holiday season, inviting people to come at their leisure to take in the beauty of the season.

Residents over the past weekend descended on the area between the Cumberland Public Library and the Cumberland Senior Center to prepare their trees for opening night.

Crawley said the biggest issue limiting the scope of the Christmas display is the lack of available power. He and clerk Arlene Nunn this year sold 40 trees with LED lights already on them, assuring them of lower energy consumption and allowing more trees to be put up. The hope is to eventually have all the trees be pre-lit.

Pawtucket has largely solved its power problems for a much larger Winter Wonderland display in that city by going the pre-lit LED route, said Crawley.

Each year he tries to add more electric capability into the park, and next year, he hopes to add enough to be able to add trees farther down the road at the Monastery.

The town stopped offering entertainment at Winter Wonderland last year, said Crawley, and he now keeps all activities within the scope of Winterfest at Diamond Hill Park, which remains open this Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 9 and 10, as well as Dec. 16, 17, 28, 29, 30 and 31. Hours for that event, with the theme “An Amazing Elf Adventure,” are 5 to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and 5 to 8 p.m. on Sundays.

Elizabeth Edge, 6, left, and Molly Ballou, 4, both of Cumberland, place ornaments on a tree in memory of Molly’s grandfather and Elizabeth’s uncle, Benjamin Ballou.
Cecilia Marino and her husband, Tony, both of Cumberland, decorate a tree in honor of Cecilia’s father and Tony’s mother at the Monastery in Cumberland last Saturday.
Ethan Proulx, and his mother, Stefanie, of North Providence, place a sign on a tree dedicated to Stefanie’s grandmother, Vivian Chrzan.


What a beautiful idea!

was wondering how to get a tree to put one up in honor of our son, CJ. Carl John III who was killed last year on Bear Hill Rd, sounds like it may be tough to get a spot though.. :(