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January 06. 2013 10:40PM

Boy Scouts light up the night with Tree Burn in Londonderry

LONDONDERRY - With the holidays in the past, dozens of Londonderry families gathered behind Mack's Apples Saturday night for a tree lighting of a different sort.

Hosted by the members of Boy Scout Troop 521, the annual Tree Burn is one of the troop's largest fundraisers. Residents were encouraged to stop by with Christmas trees, wreaths and garland throughout the day Saturday, which the scouts piled into a huge pile behind the Mammoth Road farm stand.

The scouts and their families were onsite all day, selling hot chocolate, coffee and chili and accepting donations for upcoming scouting activities. The scouts, their siblings and some friends from local Girl Scout and Cub Scout troops, worked in shifts throughout the day serving refreshments and collecting used Christmas greenery.

"It's like a little reunion today," Assistant Scout Leader Nadine Nutt said. "We've had past scouts who are on their college breaks stop by today, we've seen scout grandparents and great-grandparents."

As the group waited for nightfall, children kept themselves busy with snowball fights and sledding.

An enormous bonfire of Christmas trees concluded the day's festivities.

Now in its 18th year, the Tree Burn started as Drew MacCulloch's Eagle Scout project.

"That year we had around 1,000 trees," recalled Ted Combes, who earned his Eagle Scout badge in 2004. "It's dwindled over the years, but this remains one of our most popular events." There are approximately 20 boys in Troop 521, ranging in age from 11 to 17, according to Nutt.

Around 20 minutes before the lighting, Nutt counted 340 trees in the growing pile, with dozens more still arriving as Eagle Scout Andrew Perry, 17, was helping a group of scout dads light the fire. By day's end, the scouts collected an estimated 400 trees.

Perry's Eagle Scout project, completed last year, brought running water to the town's aging Grange Hall; the hall has undergone extensive renovations over the past several years.

Another Eagle Scout hopeful, Thomas Perry, was just getting started with another project to further improve the Grange Hall.

The Londonderry High School freshman sold baked goods during Saturday's bonfire in hopes of raising funds to assist in building a restroom at the Mammoth Road Grange.

aguilmet@newstote.com


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