Mountmellick Christmas tree is going up this week.
Watch the team of local Community Employment scheme workers busily erecting the structure today Thursday November 28.
They did some extra work this year by painting the metal frame for the first time in 40 years. The complex work to erect the 65 ft tree involves connecting the frame, light installations and finally real tree branches.
Christmas in Mountmellick is without its festive fair this year but the beloved tree will again light up in O'Connell Square and Santa will have a present for every child under 10, thanks to the committee led by dedicated brothers Brian and Ger Lynch.
Ger has confirmed that this year the tree will light up in the first week of December, a week later than usual.
“For the last few years we had to have it ready for the Christmas fair so we have some leeway. If we can light earlier we will,” he said.
Octogenarian volunteer Brian Lynch has confirmed that Santa will come to the Community Arts Centre on Sunday December 22, ahead of his big journey around the world.
“We hope to also continue our tradition of giving fuel to the elderly,” he said.
The cost of the tree, Santa's visit and fuel is about €7,000 a year he said.
“We will have our Church Gate Collection on November 29 and 30, and our flag day on December 6 and 7. We will take all the support we can get. We have to spend the money ahead of raising it but we have managed for the last few years. You can't light half a tree or give half the children a present,” he said.
The tree is going up already, thanks to volunteers and the local CE employment scheme workers.
“We do need more money and more help. We don't get a grant so would would ask the public for an extra effort,” said Ger Lynch.
The town's festive lights are run by a separate committee but will light up at the same moment as the tree. They are also selling ribbons at €5 in O'Gorman's shop for a new Tree of Remembrance.
While there is no official date announced yet, the men are working to have the tree finished for lighting this Friday December 6.
Meanwhile, a new Mountmellick Christmas market has been announced this week. It will take place in the square on Sunday December 15, 11am to 5pm. Over 50 stalls, children's entertainment and Santa will be there.