Scouts decorate community tree for the birds

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Voluntown - posted Tue., Dec. 6, 2011
(L-r) Cub Scouts Sam, 9, and Matthew, 7, enjoy a cup of hot cocoa after the tree-lighting ceremony in Voluntown. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.
(L-r) Cub Scouts Sam, 9, and Matthew, 7, enjoy a cup of hot cocoa after the tree-lighting ceremony in Voluntown. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

The Cub Scouts of Voluntown’s Pack 74 are hoping that the Christmas tree they decorated will draw more than just admiring townspeople. The ornaments they made to adorn the community Christmas tree at the gazebo behind the public library are meant to be tasty treats for wildlife.

“All the decorations are things they [Scouts] made,” said assistant Cub master Dean Wittwer. “They’re environmentally-friendly and edible for the birds.”

The pack gathered on Dec. 3 to decorate the tree with sugar-free cookies, popcorn balls, strands of popcorn and cranberries, and pine cones coated with shortening and rolled in birdseed. Decorating the tree has become a long-standing Cub Scout tradition in town, said volunteer Victoria Clements. “It’s been eight years at least – it could be longer than that,” she said. “It’s always the first Saturday in December.”

Cub pack committee chairperson and event organizer Julie Zelinsky said that, as in years past, the tree had been donated by Olsen Tree Farm in Voluntown. “Local merchants donate all the candy canes that the children receive,” she said. “Claudia’s Restaurant donated the apple cider. It’s a community effort.”

Also contributing their services were twin brothers Paul and David Verdolino, who provided acoustic background music on mandolin and Hawaiian guitar for the decorating ceremony and also accompanied the singing of carols.

Each den in the pack came up as a group to hang their ornaments on the tree, sometimes with a boost from one of the grown-ups. Santa Claus sat nearby with a stash of candy canes to hand out to each Scout and to their siblings.

“The third-graders put the ceremony together this year,” said Clements. “They’re the Bear Den.” After the tree was festooned and illuminated, members of the Bear Den led the crowd in singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and other seasonal carols.

Wittwer said that he was glad to see so many members of the community attending even though they don’t have a Scout in the troop. The event is open to all and was publicized through posters and a notice on the community news billboard near Chucky’s, he said.

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