Children help light up Frenchville for the holidays

FRENCHVILLE, Maine — A bus full of Dr. Levesque Elementary School students helped count down to the lighting of Frenchville’s Christmas tree on Thursday, and then had a chance to visit with Santa at the Frenchville Community Center. 

Santa greeted the kindergartners through sixth graders on the bus as it pulled up to Heritage Park where the holiday tree was displayed inside the gazebo.

The children joined Santa and a small crowd gathered at the park to count down before power was turned on to light up the tree that was donated by Vern Labbe from his Christmas tree farm in Frenchville.

Santa waves to Dr. Levesque Elementary School students as they stop at Frenchville’s Heritage Park on Thursday to help light the town’s Christmas tree. (Don Eno)

“I was surprised, and especially pleased, to see so many people at the lighting,” said Don Raymond, a Frenchville native who now lives in Daigle and who is big supporter of community activities in Frenchville.

“There were twice as many people as last year,” he said. “It was really nice to see so many people coming out to enjoy the tree lighting.”

At the community center, MSAD 33 School Superintendent Lisa Bernier led the children in singing various holiday classics such as “Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer” and “Silent Night.”

Each child then had an opportunity to sit and chat with Santa before receiving a little holiday gift. The jolly Mr. Claus seemed to take notes on each child’s wish.

Organizers also had hot chocolate and cookies on hand for the visitors.

Raymond said that the event could not have happened without the efforts and coordination of many volunteers and the support of town officials.

“It was really a community effort,” he said.

Alvin Tardif created a new stand for this year’s tree, and Aurele Lavoie, John Raymond and Tony Raymond strung the lights last week.

The hot chocolate was donated by Tim Hortons and Dolly’s Restaurant, while the cookies were donated by Paradis Shop n’ Save in Madawaska.

Dr. Levesque School donated the use of the school bus and Bernier helped coordinate with parents and the school district to schedule this after school activity. She also rehearsed and conducted the Dr. Levesque choral group student singers.

“It still just amazes me that this one little tree in the middle of the town of Frenchville has made such an impact in the spirit of the town and the St. John Valley,” Raymond said.

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