For the first time in 28 years, the holiday lights will not shine outside the .
The library's Board of Trustees has decided to scrap the annual tree lighting ceremony after not being able to find volunteers to help, says library director Carolyn Magnus.
"It's a lot of work," Magnus said. "It was a lot of work in the past. This year, they (the board) decided not to do it. There had been volunteers in the past."
According to Magnus, a "cherry picker" or mechanical lift is required to string lights around the 15- to 20-foot-tall fir tree. Companies have volunteered in the past to help string these lights, Magnus said. This year, no volunteers came forward.
"Back when he started this, the tree was much, much smaller," Magnus said. "Now, it's a bit of a production."
"I used to use my pool pole to string lights, but that's not long enough anymore," said Board of Trustees President Mike W. Mello, who began the tradition 28 years ago.
"Twenty-eight years ago, I attended the Tiverton lighting with my family. I thought it was a great family event and, as Portsmouth didn't do much during the holiday season, I proposed it to the library board," he said. "They thought it was a good idea, so for the next 27 years we lit the tree and had a planned program for the initial lighting."
Today, at age 70, Mello says he's just too old to continue the work.
"For the first 15 to 20 years, my sons and I decorated the tree and took the lights down after the winter. The next years, my sons had moved on as they became adults and I was on my own.
"For 27 years, I have spent hours each year fixing the light strands, buying materials, taking lights down and storing them, etc. I really have not had anyone offering to take over the process. I have just gotten tired of the process."
Mello says he has asked the board to find a replacement, but no one has come forward.
Last year, Mello says a local Lions Club member volunteered to help, but has not returned to remove the 2010 lights to this day.
"Last year, a local Lions Club member convinced a 4H Club leader to borrow a bucket truck so we could put up the lights. They never returned to take them down!"
The holiday lights still remain on the tree, but Mello says he is not interested in finding out if they still work.
"After a year of them being on the tree, I doubt they do (work)," he said.
Mello says there may still be time to hold the ceremony if a volunteer comes forward, but he is doubtful.
He also says the town should help out with the lighting ceremony.
"The town shows no interest in such a community event," Mello said. "All the communities around us have lightings and multiple events planned.
"Even poor little Warren, they light up their streets. Nothing in Portsmouth."