The Merry Maple Lights the End of 2020
The Amherst BID and Amherst Area Chamber are excited to announce the celebration of the Lighting of the Merry Maple on Friday, December 4th at from 4:30 to 6 pm. The 50-plus-year-old tradition of lighting a living tree in the North Common was first documented in print in the Amherst Record in 1966. Prior to that a Christmas tree was brought in to be decorated and lit. This year marks a new spin on the tradition – a live streamed lighting. Amherst Business Improvement District, Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce and Amherst Media are working together to create a live-streamed broadcast of the tree lighting, with Santa Claus arriving in horse-drawn carriage to countdown and light up the maple at 5pm for winter.
The illumination kicks off an hour of special recorded events, including: the UMass Minuteman Marching Band performing Santa Claus is Coming to Town; singer Ilana Morris winner of the Amherst Center Cultural District’s Artist Contest for Song/Dance, will perform a rendition of Ariana Grande’s Winter Things, Madeline Bonn of Amherst Ballet will supervise filming of a student Sydney Mager performing The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker, and nationally recognized local author Tony DeTerlizzi, of The Spiderwick Chronicles fame, will read from his book The Broken Ornament.
The Amherst BID and Chamber were able to use sponsorships for the traditional Merry Maple event, including one by Bank ESB, with a new branch on Triangle Street to provide holiday lighting to businesses with on-street storefront windows. Along with new decorations purchased by the BID in 2019, the town will be extra bright and merry and will remain so through February 2021. bankESB President and CEO Matthew S. Sosik said:
On behalf of bankESB, we're thrilled to be the Presenting Sponsor of the 45th lighting of the Merry Maple. Though this year's event may look a little different, we're proud to support this time-honored tradition and to join our friends and neighbors in Amherst in celebrating the spirit of the season.
Amherst BID Executive Director Gabrielle Gould expressed,
While we are aware that many traditions have had to be postponed this year, we are very excited to have found a safe and magical way to keep this tradition going. This year more people than ever will be able to participate in the lighting of the Maple: from near and far, all from the coziness of their homes. As always we encourage people to support the downtown businesses to the best of their ability and we wish everyone health, light and happiness this holiday season and in the new year to come.
The traditional gathering has grown over the years, bringing town and gown together with participants from the Middle School choir, the Minuteman Marching band from the University of Massachusetts and performances by A Capella groups from Amherst College. We ask that members of our community stay home and watch on either Facebook Live Stream on the
Amherst Downtown and Amherst Chamber or on Amherst Media’s channel. A great night to do curb side pickup from your favorite local restaurant and tune in to enjoy the festivities!