PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city welcomed the Christmas season Friday with its annual tree lighting.
The 35-foot tall tree in Park Square was lit by the Rapkowicz family, who donated the Colorado blue spruce to the city. Timothy and Susan Rapkowicz had planted it when they first bought their Euclid Street home.
"When we moved in over 30 years ago we planted it. I always wanted to have lights on it but it just wasn't going to work. Now the tree will have lights and we are going to have it in memory of our loved ones who passed away," Susan Rapkowicz said.
Timothy Rapkowicz said the tree had grown too big for their yard and last year he reached out to the city to donate. But by the time he did, the city had already chosen a different one. This year he offered again this year.
The family said it was an honor to have their tree being the city's Christmas tree. Nearly the entire family joined in the ceremony but they let the children push the button when the countdown from 10 hit zero. When they did, the crowd erupted with cheers and the Taconic High School chorus began caroling.
But before that happened, love was in the air. In front of the hundred or so people there, a man proposed to his girlfriend. She said yes.
Mayor Linda Tyer, who brought her pup Kenzie along, offered brief remarks and encouraged those in attendance to stay downtown and participate in the first every Festive Frolic.
"If you just look around at our beautiful park and gorgeous downtown, this is a perfect way for us to start the holidays," Tyer said.
She thanked the Rapkowicz family for the tree.
After the tree was lit up a firetruck with lights flashing came up East Street and on the back of the truck was Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Children crowded around them as they climbed off the truck and made their way to the middle of Park Square where they met and took photos with the city's youth.
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