| By Erin O'Connor |
AGAWAM The annual lighting of the Agawam Christmas Tree will take place at McGrath Park this year, a change from the past venue of Phelps Elementary School, in honor of the recently constructed "Seasonal House."
"The official tree lighting ceremony will be announced soon," City Councilor George Bitzas said to The Reminder.
The ceremony is expected to take place after Thanksgiving but before mid-December. The "Seasonal House" was constructed free of charge for the city by Skip Ansart, the owner of Skip's Outdoor Store, and his sons.
It is a small structure constructed on park grounds with the intention of apealling to young people and will be decorated for each changing season.
"It is a unique thing for the town," Bitzas said.
"The whole park is a symbol of what I consider a healthy human spirit in Agawam. The culmination of a lot of work. It is very exciting," John R. Zebryk, of the Beautification Committee said.
The use of decorations, landscaping and lights will soon transform it into an Alpine winter scene. The structure is hoped to be used by members of the community for special events such as story-telling.
McGrath Park was formerly home to the Jeff Allen building site. In the spring of 2004 Grace Brewin donated the property to the city with the stipulation that the land be used only for public purposes and named McGrath in memory of her father's family.
Ralph DePalma handled the major cost of site preperation and construction. Bitzas provided the vision and offered personal professional skills by providing the project design.
The park was equipped through funds contributed by all citizens of Agawam through the Community Preservation Act. Private and business citizens made various memorial contributions.
"It is so new all of this has not fallen into place but there has already been some interest for the Christmas season with story tellers and Santa Claus," Zebryk said.
Agawam residents are encouraged to share their ideas for the "Seasonal House". If you have ideas contact George Bitzas at 789-1464.