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By Jon Bishop

jbishop@nashobapub.com

AYER — The rotary tree lighting ceremony, slated for Dec. 7, has been canceled, said Board of Selectmen Chairman Chris Hillman.

Hillman said he started the event three years ago, putting up the lights on the trees himself. He spent $300 to $400 for the initial lighting, he said. To do it correctly, it would cost “a couple thousand dollars.”

He was hoping for more help from the town, Hillman said, meaning resources, but, due to a variety of issues, including the weather, that didn’t happen.

“It really wasn’t there,” he said. “I can’t fund it and install it all myself. We were hoping to really expand it this year, too.”

Hillman said that he told Town Administrator Robert Pontbriand that, without help, he’d have to cancel the event.

The lighting should be done commercially and be an official town event, Hillman noted.

“Hopefully, moving forward, we can fund it,” he said, noting that they could put it out to bid and potentially get it funded at the spring Town Meeting. “It’s not a one person event.”

Hillman said that he’ll do his best “to illuminate the trees that are already decorated.”

“We won’t be able to do the big tree,” he said.

Pontbriand, in a statement, said that “recent technical difficulties with the lights and lighting equipment; lack of available, capable manpower; and the impending storm and holiday schedule created a situation making the Dec. 7 event not possible.”

He agreed that the lighting should be funded, in part, by the town and that it “should become an official town event.”

He said that Hillman proposed the following measures: creation of a Rotary Tree Lighting Event Committee; partial town funding, which he compared to the 4th of July celebration; and a “competitive bid process to obtain a professional lighting installation firm.

“With these measures in place, this great event will become even greater for 2015,” Pontbriand said.

Via phone, he stressed that the lighting is “an excellent event that has continued to grow over the past few years.”

“We’re going to be proactive with this,” he said.

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