Westport Lions Wayne Bent, left, and Craig Jackson, right, hand a $500 donation to Robb Merkley to upgrade the Dick Ready Memorial Christmas Tree to commercial lighting. Tickets are also being sold on a $400 gift basket at The Cove.
The Dick Ready Memorial Christmas Tree has been a Westport tradition for over 30 years now and plans are in the works to upgrade the lights before it is turned on for the 2020 season.
For most of the past 30 years, Robb Merkley and his volunteers have had a battle with the lighting, even though they switched to LEDs a few years ago.
With the harsh climate on Spy Rock, the off-the-shelf LEDs only last a season or two and constantly need in-line fuses and lights come loose.
So now they are working to raise $3,000 to make the switch to commercial lights, with 15,000 hours of life, that won’t need replacing for several years.
The Westport Lions Club donated $500 to the cause on Sunday and tickets are also on sale at The Cove for a gift basket valued at around $400.
The draw date will be Fri., Dec. 20.
The idea for the tree originated with former Cove/Tweedsmuir owner Dick Ready, who strung five 100ft extension cords up the mountain to light the tree in 1988. Ready became ill and died in 1989.
Merkley and a crew of volunteers have put the lights and star up every year since.
The tree is traditionally lit up the weekend of the Lions Santa Claus parade at the end of November and on Christmas Eve the tree gets its star.
It has historically stays lit until early February until the village’s former winter carnival, another event Dick Ready was involved in.