Santa Claus Visits Bedford ~ Bedford’s Annual Walkabout & Tree Lighting ~ Saturday, December 1, 4 to 6 pm

By Town Historian Sharon McDonald

Santa Claus, descending from his perch atop Bedford’s Ladder One

Are you one of the folks who’s looking forward to a visit from Santa Claus on Christmas Eve? Have you ever stayed up late to watch for him? Oh yes! But did you know he can be glimpsed here in Bedford even earlier in December? Let me tell you how to see him!

Every year at the beginning of the holiday season, the Bedford Department of Public Works brings its ladders to the Common to hang little light bulbs on the trees. The bulbs sit dark for a few nights until the Annual Bedford Walkabout and Tree Lighting Ceremony. (This year it’s on Saturday, December 1st between 4:00 and 6:00 p.m.)

Soon after sundown, the streets near the Common become busy with families strolling about, nipping into the stores and businesses to say “Hello,” shopping, having dinner, gazing at the art in the First Parish Gallery, singing Christmas carols along with the carolers, climbing the stairs to the third floor of Old Town Hall for a kids’ treat, and then warming their cold hands with a cup of hot chocolate on the church front’s steps.

But as the clock hand reaches the top of the hour of five, everyone gathers on the Common to watch and wait in the darkness and the chill.  It gets very quiet. When the church bells begin to chime, all shout the countdown, led by our new Town Manager, Sarah Stanton. And it’s “Five!!! Four!!! Three!!! Two!!! one !!!” and Ms. Stanton throws the switch that connects all of the wires to the bulbs in the trees. We all hold our breath. Will the lights come on? Yes!! And the Common sparkles with light. We’re all cheering!!!

And then – can you hear it??? – far, far away down the street, the siren on Engine One begins to blare. But this is no emergency! The siren is not crying “Get out of the way! Get out of the way!” It is crying “Guess who is coming to town?”

Maybe this is your first year, and you don’t know who it is sitting up with the ladder on top of the truck. But the searchlight shows a red suit and a white beard. Oh, Santa!!!

And wonder of wonders, the fire truck stops at the Common, and Santa climbs down to wish each child a “Merry Christmas!” or a “Ho ho ho!!” He may have a candy cane for you in his pocket! (One year, he gave me a hug!)

All too soon, he has to get back to work, preparing for Christmas Eve. And yet, with a wink, he promises, “I’ll see you again soon!!”

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