Christmas tree-lighting begins Portland holiday festivities

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PORTLAND — The holiday season kicks off Friday, when the city’s Christmas tree will be lit at 5:30 p.m. in Monument Square.

This year’s tree, a 40-foot blue spruce, was delivered Nov. 19 after it was cut down in the business park at 891 Washington Ave., off Rainbow Mall Road.

“It’s the first tree we’ve ever gotten from a parking lot,” city arborist Jeff Tarling said.

Organized by nonprofit Portland Downtown, the event will include music from Rick Charette and the Bubblegum Band, and the Jason Spooner Band. It launches the Light Up Your Holidays Festival, held Fridays and weekends through Dec. 20, and includes a Merry Madness shopping event Dec. 10.

Shop for a Cause Day on Saturday, Nov. 28, will benefit Preble Street Resource Center. Participating merchants will donate a portion of their proceeds to the nonprofit that provides food, shelter and mental health services for homeless and low-income clients.

Merry Madness begins Thursday, Dec. 10, with a 4 p.m. reception at Portland House of Music, 25 Temple St. Old Port businesses will stay open until 10 p.m. that night, and there will be free gift wrapping from 6-8 p.m. at the Bangor Savings Bank branch at 188 Middle St.

Throughout the festival, Portland Downtown will offer free horse-drawn wagon wides that begin and end in Monument Square and pass through the Old Port.

Congress Street from Preble to Elm streets will be closed Friday from noon-9 p.m. for the tree lighting. Metro bus service will be allowed on Congress Street from noon to 3 p.m., and again from 7:30-9 p.m. Monument Way and Federal Street from Congress to Temple streets will also be closed from 4:45-7 p.m., with no parking allowed from 2-7 p.m.

For the Dec. 10 Merry Madness event, Federal Street between Temple and Exchange streets will be closed to parking and vehicular traffic from noon-8 p.m.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Portland city arborist Jeff Tarling stands by the stump as workers from Shaw Brothers secure the city’s Christmas Tree on Nov. 19 outside a business park off Washington Avenue. The tree will be lit in Monument Square on Thursday, Nov. 27.

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.