A 27-foot-tall white spruce graces the Hayloft Gallery this holiday season at the Silo on Hunt Hill Farm in New Milford.

Its appearance marks the 42nd year of a holiday tradition at the iconic Northville site.

The tree was harvested from Hunt Hill's Christmas tree farm and hauled in through the gallery's barn doors.

The tree now serves as the center of holiday celebrations, forming the backdrop for caroling, free concerts and other holiday festivities.

The first concert, "Haul Out The Holly," is scheduled Saturday, Nov. 22 at 6 p.m. featuring the SingOut! singers from neighboring Washington.

Ruth Henderson, with her late husband, legendary band leader Skitch Henderson, launched the holiday tradition in the early 1970s.

She often said she was proud the freshly cut trees always are a "home-grown product."

Skitch Henderson, conductor, pianist, and founder and leader of the New York Pops, died in 2005.

Ruth Henderson died in February, leaving the tradition in the hands of decorator Helen Cherney and Liba Fuhrman, executive director of Hunt Hill Farm Trust.

"Ruth came in last year and watched us decorating the tree," Cherney said, as she added giant white silk poinsettias to this year's branches. "She'd overseen purchasing the ornaments. I think she would be proud the tradition is continuing on, and people continue to come to her home."

Holidays at the Silo under Ruth's guiding hand included Silo kitchen workshops on making gingerbread houses. Families would come to create the houses from a stash of 600 pounds of gingerbread dough and 100 different toppings.

The workshops continue with middle-school students from Washington Montessori School building gingerbread houses for a holiday sale to raise funds for the Children's Community School in Waterbury.

Students were seen recently unpacking decorations and wrapping gift boxes to go under the Silo's tree.

"It's a great way to start off the Christmas season," said Arreyion Yates, a Montessori eighth-grader.

"It's really nice to give back for the help they give us with the gingerbread houses," said seventh-grader Najma Braddock.

The holiday theme this year is "New Traditions."

The tree is decorated in ivory and gold, with glittering snowflakes, organza balls and a stream of crinoline ribbon.

"We're blending Ruth's traditions with some new touches," Fuhrman said.

Wooden ornaments of cardinals, snowmen, reindeer and Nutcracker soldiers, along with stuffed gingerbread men, hang from the tree.

Themed gifts are available at the Silo shop as well as a pop-up store to open Thanksgiving weekend at 20 Bank Street in New Milford.

Ruth Henderson opened the Silo in 1972 soon after moving into the farmhouse, which dates probably to the 1830s. The Silo soon became the focal point of Hunt Hill, a 135-acre farm preserved by the Hendersons as a cultural center. The farm is on the National Register of Historic Places and the trust is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.

stuz@newstimes.com; 203-731-3352