Alvirne Annual Holiday Concert:  

The Tradition Continues

by Doug Robinson


Eric Monfette, Adam Pastorello, and Ian Jutrus on their horns.

Tradition!  Hudson is rich and full of traditions each holiday season.  Library Common comes alive with the beauty and magic of the lights that adorn the trees, Santa arrives each year riding in a fire truck, and the Alvirne High School Music Department takes to the stage to perform their annual holiday concert.

The gymatoriam was full to the rafters with parents, grandparents, bothers, sisters, and well wishers as Gerry Bastian, District Music Coordinator for the Hudson School District, and Liz Beaton, Coral Director for Alvirne High School, led the different ensembles through a myriad of holiday favorites such as Sleigh Ride, Carol of the Bells, and Buglers Holiday.

While Bastien was celebrating his 11th holiday concert at Alvirne High School, Beaton was directing her first.  Through her direction and leadership, 12 students which comprise the B-Naturals, opened the concert with a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner in perfect four-part harmony.  In appreciation, the audience came alive with loud applause for the wonderful performance.


Shawna Holt on timpani.

The Alvirne Singers, which consist of 85 students, led the audience through such memorable favorites as Freedom is Coming, a choral showcase of tunes from Fiddler on the Roof, and Knock on Wood.  Fingers could be heard snapping, hands were clapping, and toes were tapping as the audience showed their support of the performance extraordinaire by the students.

The concert band took to the stage, filling the entire stage with 115 members.  Kettle drums pounded, trombones and trumpets sounded, while the clarinets, flutes, and the remainder of the instruments played in perfect synchronization in their performance of the songs of Invercargill, And the Mountains Echoed: Gloria.  Beautiful music, being played by the freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors, filled the night with the rich sounds of those familiar holiday favorites.

The 27-member Nothing But Treble ensemble performed with the B-Naturals.  In addition, the 23 students who make up the stage band followed the performances of the concert band and continued to bring smiles to the attentive audience.  Nothing But Treble sang Riu Riu Chiu,Ev ’ry Time I feel the Spirit, Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening and Christmas Chopstix.  The B Naturals sang Carol of the Bells II Est Ne, and We are Lights.  The stage band performed Backburner, Bari Bari Good, Lil’ Darlin, and the Angels Swing, as well as Prime Time.

Bastien’s opening remarks set the stage for the inspired performances:  “Every year the annual holiday concert becomes a bigger and bigger event.  It’s great to see that every seat is filled in the gymatorium.”


Pat McCarthy and AHS singers.

Green Meadow’s 375 Acres

about to Undergo Transformation

by Doug Robinson


Canton, CT


Hingham,MA

The town of Hudson will soon have in its hands the Phase 1 site plan for the development of the Green Meadow Golf Course, which will change Green Meadow from its current 36-hole golf course into the largest retail center in New England:  RiverPlace.

W/S Weiner, developers of the Green Meadow property, have already completed a traffic study, and have completed their “fiscal benefit and service demand analysis” in effort to determined the impact of their development project on the roads and on the financial impact to Hudson.  The traffic study analyzed “21 intersections throughout Hudson, and provides the town with a very technical analysis of volume, turning movements, and peak hour traffic,” stated Sean Sullivan, Community Development Director, Hudson.

The anticipated site plan will be taller than the yellow pages phone book and will exceed 100 pages.  The plan will detail W/S Development’s intentions to develop the 36-hole golf courses from its current 375 acres of tree-lined fairways, groomed greens, manicured sand traps, and sculptured fairways into a destination shopping center.

The destination shopping center will involve more than 1.3 million feet of retail space.  Big box retailers and specialty shopping stores will transform the tranquil landscaping of the 36-hole golf courses into the largest New England retail center. 

The Community Development office, in conjunction with the Town of Hudson, has launched a Website in an effort to keep the public informed of the ongoing details of the Green Meadow project.  The public is invited to visit the town’s Website:  http://ci.hudson.nh.us/riverplace, for the most current and updated information concerning the project.

“The town anticipates redevelopment of this property into a mixed-use site, understanding that potential impacts of the proposal are essential to a positive, community responsive redevelopment, consistent with community-based objectives.  Residents are urged to attend public hearings where this proposal will be discussed in detail,” stated the Website.

The Website offers the viewer detailed maps of the master plan.  “Located on the water, RiverPlace will create a new neighborhood with retail, offices, residences, hotels, and entertainment.  Visitors will shop, stroll or jog along the banks of the river, enjoy live performances, ice skate during the winter, and indulge in fishing and boating.

“The first phase of the complex will be a retail center with upscale shopping, restaurants and a 16-screen movie theater, around a town green that will become the heart of a new community.  The center will sport pedestrian-friendly parks, meandering walkways, landscaping, live entertainment, and other recreation.


Canton, CT


Hingham,MA

“In time, RiverPlace will include up to 2.2 million square feet of retail, 150,000 square feet of office space, 600 riverfront apartments, and condominiums, 400 hotel units, and a conference center.  A new neighborhood of its own, it will form a new gateway to Hudson, and an attraction that will draw visitors from the greater Nashua region and beyond,” according to the Website.

According to W/S Development, the drawings of their project illustrate the makings of a Landmark Square, an amphitheater, many pavilion buildings, a resort hotel, and a theater district.  According to the W/S Development, Website, “With full development to be completed over 10 to 15 years, RiverPlace is a long-term commitment for W/S Development.  We will work with all of Hudson’s agencies to ensure that our buildings comply with their vision for the town.  We will focus on land planning, architecture, traffic control, and new public infrastructure.

“RiverPlace will have tree-filled buffer zones between the development and our neighbors to maintain their privacy.  Above all, we will provide the amenities and the space for social interaction that will keep Hudson vital for decades to come.  We don’t just build in communities – we want to become part of them. “

In order to manage this project, Sullivan has received the approval from the Hudson Board of Selectmen to hire a contract planner, whose primary responsibility will be overseeing the ongoing concerns of the RiverPlace project.  This position will be subsidized by W/S Development. 

“Hudson is committed with staffing the resources necessary to managing the plan.  This project is bigger than any single project that any of us have worked on.  From day one to the grand opening, the Community Development Department will be the eyes and ears of the people of Hudson, and we are confident that we will keep their interests foremost,” stated Sullivan.

The Great Christmas Tree Debate:  

Real vs. Artificial?

by Maureen Gillum


Tom Smith (left) of Smith Farms, helps load a tree for a life-long Hudson customer, Steve Miron.

There’s been a long and on-going battle among Christmas tree aficionados over what is best: the traditional evergreen tree or its low-maintenance artificial counterpart.  While fake trees have improved and convenience further challenges tradition, the Christmas tree market has shifted away from real trees over the last decade.  However, as ardent tree growers fight back the onslaught of PVC imports, that trend appears to be slowing.  Many pros and cons exist for both varieties of this Christmas icon.

With roots in ancient pagan traditions, Christmas trees today commonly transcend their Christian orientation -- real or fake, Christmas trees are big business.  Nearly 33 million real Christmas trees, worth $1.37 billion, were sold in the U. S. last year, according to the National Christmas Tree Association (www.christmastree.org).  In comparison, the NCTA estimates Americans bought 9.3 million artificial trees in 1995, worth about $671 million.  Though NCTA estimates true conifers still maintain roughly 70 percent of the total Christmas tree market, natural trees sales have fallen about 35 percent in the last decade.

While real trees typically cost less, they last one brief season; fake trees are paid for once and can be used for years.  Real trees -- primarily firs, pines, and spruces -- typically cost $25-$50.  Artificial trees, which vary greatly in offerings -- black trees and inverted trees are among the latest variations -- range from about $40 to nearly $900; with an average cost of $96.

"More than 3 1/2 times as many real trees are purchased as fake trees," said Rick Dungey, an NCTA spokesman.  “Most people say they want the tradition, memories, and family experience of a real tree.”  A natural tree also offers a fresh scent, a unique selection (shape, size, type), helps sustain the local economy, and is a renewable natural resource that can be composted or recycled.  On the down side, natural trees are typically higher maintenance (watering and shedding needles) and have a limited life span of generally less than a month.

Local real-tree loyalists shopping recently at Smith Farms in Hudson staunchly defended evergreens.  “Real trees are the only way to go,” shared Hudson resident Daniela Miron emphatically.  “I love the real tree smell and it keeps the spirit of Christmas best.”

“Coming here for our Christmas trees is a family tradition, just like it was with my parents,” added Steve Miron, happily helping load his 10-foot tree in his pick-up.  “It’s also a great local place -- why go anywhere else?”

Four-year-old Patrick Kelley of Pelham was also thrilled to go tree shopping again with his dad, Daniel.  “I’m looking for a big green one!,” Patrick exclaimed excitedly and revealed, “We always go for the real trees.”

Proprietor Tom Smith also told Patrick his ‘best tree selection secret for kids’ with a hearty laugh and twinkle in his eye, “Always look for the tree with lots of room underneath for presents.”

For decades, Smith Farms (131 Kimball Hill Road) has typically sold a few hundred Christmas trees annually; it is also one of the last small farm stands operating in Hudson.  Other local garden centers, offering natural trees and “full-service country charm,” include Countrybrook Farms (175 Lowell Road, Hudson) and Rodonis Gardens (47 Charles Bancroft Road, Litchfield).  Among Cut-Your-Own Christmas tree vendors are Noel’s Tree Farm (Route 3A, Litchfield) and two smaller vendors in Hudson, Okey Dokey (149 Wason Road) and Ouellet’s (108 Mushsquash).  Hudson’s Boy Scout Troop 21 also sells authentic trees and wreaths on December nights and weekends on Lowell Road in Hudson, just north of Teledyne.

On the other side, artificial trees have come a long way since their earliest metal and feather renditions from Germany in late 1800s or the modern artificial-brush trees related to toilet brushes from the 1930s (see the related story, Christmas Origins in next week’s Hudson~Litchfield News).  Many high-end artificial trees now offered on-line (www.christmasdepot.com, www.christmaslightsetc.com), with price tags of $500 - $1,000 plus, claim to rival real trees.  Once set-up, fake trees require very low maintenance (no watering or picking up needles) and can be left up indefinitely.  Newer pre-lit trees are also big time savers.  Typically lasting six years, artificial trees can be cost-effective over time.   

Fake trees cons may include a ‘phony’ look and feel, no scent, and the space needed for off-season storage.  They are made from non-renewable resources (metal and plastic), which present challenges in its end-life disposal.  Many artificial trees and lights also contain dangerous lead.  

Locally, many retailers offer artificial trees.  Sam’s Club in Hudson offers some impressive 7.5 foot and 9 foot pre-lit artificial trees, both priced just under $150.  “We sell a few hundred artificial trees every year,” reported store manager and Hudson resident, Steve Flaherty.  He cited “allergies, small children, pets and convenience” as the key reasons customers opt for fake.  Flaherty also admitted “we did real trees up until this year, but switched with the birth of our first child.”

Real trees Americans buy are grown and sold by about 21,000 tree farms and the 100,000 people they employ (full and part-time) across most states and Canada.  By far, Oregon ranks first with about 6.5 million trees harvested annually; as the respective 13th, 14th, and 19th tree producers, Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire collectively yield almost a half million trees, according to the U. S. Government.  Real trees best support the U. S. and regional economies.

Conversely, artificial trees are largely imports.  More than 85 percent of fake trees are exported from China, typically made by factory workers making $100 - $125 a month.

A common misnomer is Christmas trees are a fire hazard.  However, a well-maintained real tree won’t support a flame due to its high water content.  While fake trees are often “flame retardant” and resist flames, they can also emit intense heat and toxic smoke.  In truth, “natural and artificial Christmas trees, are ignited in less than one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) of all the home fires,” according to The National Fire Protection Association.

Another consideration is the environment.  Though real trees only last several weeks, they are grown as a renewable crop where two to three trees are replanted for each one harvested.  During its typical six- to eight-year growing cycle, real trees cleanse the air, provide oxygen, help protect and beautify the surrounding land, water, and wildlife.  Upon disposal, a real tree can easily be composted or recycled.

While artificial trees are paid for once and used an average of six years, most are made of non-renewable resources – petroleum that makes up PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and metal.  More alarming, toxic lead is typically used to stabilize and keep PVC products flexible.  Precautions should be made to avoid inhaling or ingesting minute lead dust that may fall from faux Christmas trees.  Last, after throwing away a fake tree, it generally sits in a landfill for decades.

No doubt the real versus fake Christmas tree debate will continue for years.  Whichever, if any, tree you select, hopefully the real symbolism of the “ever green” -- the hope and essence of spring in winter – is enjoyed and remembered by all.  Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!


A Pelham father and son, Daniel and Patrick Kelley, hunt for the real “big green tree.”

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