By Lisa Rice
By all accounts, it was fitting for the year that 2020 has been when the lights went out on the Christmas Tree at the Old School Baptist Church during the Warwick Fire Department Tree Lighting on Fri., Nov. 27.
Like many traditions throughout the country, the annual tree lighting, usually attended by hundreds in Lewis Park, was capped at a maximum capacity of 50 people. Onlookers gathered on the surrounding streets, wearing masks and social distancing to observe the tradition, which this year would include lighting the large traditional tree as well as a new, smaller tree. The event was also shared on the department’s Facebook page.
Lights Shine Through the Darkness
The tree lighting began with a prayer by Warwick Fire Department Chaplain Pastor Jen Morrow, who invited everyone to gather in prayer.
“Oh God of all, as we gather at this hour to give you thanks for our community and for the traditions that can persist, even in the midst of all that has changed this year, as we gather for this tree lighting in prayer, we are mindful of the many darknesses of our world,” said Pastor Morrow. “And we pray that these lights might remind us of what can be our purpose, our calling and our joy. May we shine the light of kindness wherever words are harsh. May we shine the light of hope, wherever despair takes hold. May we shine the light of self-sacrifice, as we care for friend and stranger. May we shine the light of justice, wherever inequity, prejudice or racism persists. May we shine the light of compassion, wherever uncertainty or fear arise. And may we shine the light of healing, wherever bodies, minds or spirits are broken. Oh God, let the light of your love shine among us so brightly, that the darkness will not overcome it. Fill us with hope and healing, even now, for even the longest night, has yet to prevail over even one dawn.”
Community Gives Strength
“You know we’re in the midst of a very serious health crisis, but what we need to be thankful for is the strength we get from this great community,” said Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton. “We need to keep our families safe. We need to keep our loved ones safe. We need to keep our most vulnerable safe. But this great gift that the volunteers have given us tonight, gives us the inspiration and the strength to get through what we’re facing. God bless you all and stay safe and have a wonderful holiday season.”
Warwick Fire Department is Inspirational
“Thank you everyone for coming out this evening,” said Village of Warwick Mayor Michael Newhard. “It’s very different than our normal gathering. But I want to say thank you to the Warwick Fire Department. You all have done an inspirational job in the past few months, getting this together. We’ve had to be so creative this year. We’ve had to change the way we see things and how we do things. But the most important thing is the continuation of the things that we love. The continuation of the activities that inspire us and make us a community. And you guys have done it. It’s been incredible to watch. A tree that’s grown too big; another tree that is still in the wings; you were inspiring all of us because you decided that this was going to be done. It’s a great credit to you. Thank you very much. And Merry Christmas to everyone.”
Merry Christmas from Fire Department
“Before we light these great trees,” said Warwick Fire Department President Melissa Stevens, “I would like to, on behalf of myself, the chiefs, the line officers and the members of the Warwick Fire Department, we would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a very Happy Holidays. So, if everybody is ready, we’re going to count from ten and we’re going to light these two beautiful trees.”
Who Turned Out the Lights?
But when the crowd finished counting down, the large traditional tree had just the star and several strands of lights turn on before turning off again. The smaller tree didn’t turn on at all. Stevens ran to the smaller tree and manually turned it on, receiving applause from the crowd. The other tree proved a little more challenging and apparently, Santa didn’t learn about the lighting glitch before riding down Church St. on a fire truck while the issue was still being attended to.
The lights on the larger tree were turned on a few minutes later, but not before everyone got a chuckle out of the irony of the 2020 Warwick Fire Department Christmas Tree Lighting.
After a false start, the lights on the new, smaller Christmas tree were on at the Warwick Fire Department’s annual Tree Lighting at the Old School Baptist Church. The larger, traditional tree wasn’t as easily remedied.
After a little while, the lights of the traditional Christmas Tree were shining brightly as the Holiday Season in the Village of Warwick began.
Always the star of the show, Santa Claus arrived at the annual Warwick Fire Department Christmas Tree Lighting at Lewis Park riding on top of a fire truck.