By Susan Gonsalves, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Downtown Westborough will have a new look, next winter, as the Rotary Club of Westborough plans to revamp its annual holiday lighting display.
Signing a new contract with Christmas Décor of Spencer, Rotary Club leaders say they’re following public consensus calling for “softer” lights. With a new display, Rotarian James O’Connor told Selectmen, March 16, the Club wants to create “an old-fashioned New England look and get back to basics.”
Hearing a presentation from O’Conner at their recent meeting, Selectmen voted unanimously in favor of accepting the Rotary Club’s gift of free lighting during the holiday season.
Existing traditions earn criticism
O’Connor said, March 16, that the Rotary Club has experienced many challenges over several decades while working to keep their lighting tradition alive. Among those challenges are the time consuming nature of the process; the lack of suitable equipment; limitations for design; and the large size of the trees making it difficult for existing resources to reach.
He noted that members of the public have voiced their disapproval over the display both to rotarians and on social media.
At issue is a pattern of inconsistent lighting. That’s the result, O’Conner explained, of the Rotary Club accumulating a variety of bulbs and fixtures over the years, making for a “disjointed” appearance.
Rotary Club looks to out of town solutions
After contacting a number of professional vendors all interested in taking over the display, the Rotary Club selected Christmas Décor.
That group will supply all the lights and decorations Westborough will need. Its crews will hang, install, and dismantle holiday decorations. They also plan to maintain lights themselves during the `lit’ season, O’Connor said, March 16.
In addition, Christmas Décor will store materials during the off-season.
Embarking on this process, O’Connor said he had talked to individuals in other communities including Shrewsbury, which does a “nice job of creating a wonderland.”
It turned out, Shrewsbury had already been using Christmas Décor as a lighting vendor, cementing this choice in Westborough Rotary Club members’ minds.
Lighting plan promises brilliant display in 2021
Their contract agreed upon, Westborough’s timetable for lights in 2021 involves placing an order with Christmas Décor as soon as possible. Installation begins in mid-November, with the illumination turning on during the night of Nov. 28.
When that switch flips, later this year, locals can expect to see white lighting for three large trees in the rotary. LED lighting will drape through tree canopies. Four hundred multi-colored lights will skirt an evergreen in the rotary. And twenty-four poles on West Main, East Main and South Streets will bear pre-lit evergreen garlands.
Rotarians, Selectmen discuss details of lighting agreement
Speaking with Selectmen, O’Connor asked the town about fabricating or purchasing an extended light shield to shade a spotlight currently shining on the American Flag at the rotary. That will better illuminate the flag while at the same time, improving a seasonal lighting effect in the winter.
In addition, O’Conner asked that a large spruce tree at the rotary be trimmed.
For its part, the Rotary Club plans on purchasing a seasonal banner for its holiday decorations. That will read “to celebrate the season and as a thank you to light supporters.”
The Club will further cover costs of insurance and indemnification surrounding light installation.
As O’Conner made his presentation, March 16, fellow rotarian Kathy Wilfert added that the Club will be relying on fundraising to buy its lights in increments over the next three years. Each year during that span, she said, the Club will, in turn, ask the public for help.