The Village Green in New Milford is transformed into the quintessential New England village every holiday season.
A good measure of the credit is due the United Methodist Men at the New Milford United Methodist Church. The group annually puts up lighted Christmas trees along the length of the Green.
Each year, large crowds flock to the Green for a special tree-lighting ceremony.
"It's a great start to the holiday season," said Chamber president Cheryl Bakewell.
"It's a beautiful New England Green and the area should take pride in it" because the tree display doesn't happen everywhere, she said.
This year, the trees will be lighted Nov. 24 at 5:30 p.m.
The festival will also feature singing, a visit with Santa Claus and holiday readings at the south end of the Village Green.
Putting up trees on the Village Green every holiday season was the brainchild of the late Walter Schutte during the 1960s.
One year, after seeing a silver, artificial tree in the middle of the Green, he felt compelled to take action.
The artificial tree was taken down and a live tree was placed on the Green and presumably lighted, according to Dave Kullgren of the United Methodist Men.
A tradition was born. The following year, the entire Green was decorated with 16 lighted trees.
Unfortunately, Mr. Schutte's life was cut short in a motor vehicle accident.
He had seen the Green adorned with holiday splendor just once.
"At least he got to see them one time," said Mr. Schutte's daughter, Phyllis Krafsky of New Milford.
Mr. Schutte's employer, Frank Landig of the former Village Hardware store, kept the vision alive.
Mr. Landig enlisted the assistance of the UMM and, according to old newspaper clippings referenced by Mr. Kullgren, in the early years the former Metichewan Grange took on the tree project as a community service project.
Today, the UMM and other volunteers -- including women and youth and totaling from 20 to 30 people -- help put up the now 17 trees gracing the Green each year in honor of Mr. Schutte and Mr. Landig's vision.
"It's a lot of fun," said Mr. Kullgren, who noted sometimes motorists honk their horn when they see the trees going up.
Once 10- to 11-foot trees are up and lighted, "the townspeople enjoy it... to just look at the lights on the trees," Mr. Kullgren said.
UMM member Ralph Williams III, who has been helping with the trees for more than 20 years, said he likes "the satisfaction [the trees give] people who drive by."