Belmont residents Colleen Ford and Linda Garrity slowly made their way up and down the evergreens standing outside the Belmont Lions Club on Saturday, Nov. 29.
Like each year, they ventured down to Belmont Center looking for that “right” Christmas tree.
“You don’t want it too big because over time they fill out,” said Garrity.
Nor should it be too tall as the tree will be placed in the kitchen, explained Ford.
“We put it there because the window looks out over the access road [to Route 2],” she said.
“We think it’s nice for drivers to see, and it’s also a way to show off a little,” Ford said.
The pair were some of the first customers on the first day of the annual Belmont Lions Club Christmas tree and wreath sale which has transformed into its own holiday tradition for hundreds of families in Belmont and the surrounding communities for the past five decades.
“Our family does this each year,” said Kristen Lonero, who was back from attending Curry College to help her father get the right tree.
“We know the people so this is like a Belmont reunion,” said Lonero, who not so many years ago spent time with fellow athletes at the Club – one of the 46,000 local clubs worldwide with more than 1.35 million members in 200 countries – located under the Belmont station of the MBTA commuter rail line.
Lion’s President Kevin Vona said he and his 63 fellow members will spend from last Saturday until Christmas Eve selling approximately 2,800 trees and 2,000 wreaths, “but every year we sell out before the 24th.”
Supplemented by volunteers from the Belmont High School sports teams – Boys’ hockey and lacrosse were there to unload the first delivery of trees while softball created wreaths – “we all do our little part to make this a success,” said Vona.
Former Belmont resident Al Gledhill was placing trees on mini-van roofs with the expertise of someone who loves to volunteer.
“It’s the season,” said Al.
The sale’s proceeds go to help the Lions Internationals’ SightFirst programs that focus on its Childhood Blindness Project and other sight-related charities as well as fund a pair of scholarships at Belmont High School.
This year, change and donations placed in the “tip” jar will go to Belmont S.P.O.R.T. (Special Programs Organized for Recreation Time) which provides activities for individuals of all ages with special needs.
“People come here not just that it’s close, but they know the money they spend here is going to a worthy cause,” said Vona.
While the weekends can be busy, and the traffic traveling up Royal Road can cause everyone to do a “quick step” to avoid a collision, “I think everyone has a blast coming here. Our guys and the customers,” said Vona.
Jasyn Tandy and his daughter, Elise, were spying a couple of trees to select.
“She definitely has a voice in which one we select,” said Tandy of his toddler who was looking with a family friend.
With the selection made, Tandy decided to put the tree over his shoulder and head up Royal Road (he only lives three houses up the street.”
“My daddy’s strong,” said Elise.