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Seasonal spirit on the rise in Kingston

KINGSTON — Celebrating the start of the Christmas season, about a dozen Kingston residents gathered Saturday morning with coffee, cocoa and pruning shears to prepare their community for celebrating and making memories during the chilly winter holidays. And while they were decking the halls with boughs of holly, evergreens and laurel, they laughed and talked as holiday spirit filled the air.

Despite the frigid temperatures, and the old heater in the basement of the Kingston Community Center, people gladly piled the room full of branches, wire and ribbon to make the popular swags, which would later be hung on light poles along major Kingston thoroughfares. Gathering two days after Thanksgiving has been a tradition in the North End for almost a decade, and many residents show up to kick off the holiday season.

“This has been going on ever since I’ve been here,” said Kingston Revitalization Association member Sally Christy, who has lived in Kingston for about seven years. “Yeah, it’s definitely a tradition now.”

“More groups are getting involved this year,” added Downtown Kingston Association President Nancy Martin. “For too long it’s only been a few people doing it, but this year there are a lot more groups participating.”

KRA members have been encouraging residents to lend a hand in the decorating, so having other North End groups pitch in is an exciting development, one the KRA has tried to foster every year, Christy said. The volunteers usually form an assembly line of sorts, picking from the fresh vegetation and various ribbons and bows to concoct their own swags.

This year, Martin said, was more difficult because usually the decorating team gets its evergreen branches from boughs knocked down during windstorms. Last year there were more than enough to go around, but this year’s pickings were slim because of the lack of stormy weather.

“We are taking our time this year,” Christy said. “Last year, they were blowing down all over the place... There was practically nothing out there when I got here.”

As the helpers began arriving, they brought with them materials to use, including a large pile of laurel branches and holly leaves to festoon the evergreen swags. Following the decorating party at the community center, volunteers with trucks and other vehicles ventured into Kingston to hang the swags and wrap the historical light poles with paper and ribbon to enhance the Christmas atmosphere.

Ron Muell, treasurer for the KRA, said he was at the decorating because his wife requested his help that morning. He said he goes every year as part of his duties for the association as well, and it kicks off the season’s festivities.

“Yup, I’m a member of KRA,” said Kingston resident Margaret Sinnott of her reason for helping with the swags. “It’s kind of fun, it gets you in the holiday spirit. I gotta go home and do Christmas cards now.”

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