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Pleasantville Masonic Lodge Goes Above and Beyond to Hold Holiday Tree Sale

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Members of the Pleasantville-Hiawatha Masonic Lodge arrange the Christmas trees they were able to obtain for their holiday sale. They once again are partnering with the Pleasantville International Association.

Two local organizations that have partnered on a local Christmas tree sale were in jeopardy of having to cancel their holiday tradition this year.

Through a little bit of luck and a lot of help from the community, the sale was saved and hundreds of local families can have their homes decorated with a live tree.

For the past three years, the Pleasantville-Hiawatha Masonic Lodge and the Pleasantville International Association (PIA), a group that promotes and arranges local students to travel abroad, have partnered on the effort after the longtime tree sale at the United Methodist Church ended.

But shortly before the anticipated delivery, about a week before Thanksgiving, representatives of the two organizations were told there weren’t the trucks or the manpower to deliver the shipment of 650 trees from a supplier in Quebec. So the Masons sprang into action, with one member arranging for a truck to head north of the border to bring the trees to Pleasantville, said Tony Burton, head of the Pleasantville-Hiawatha Masonic Lodge.

Although the trees didn’t arrive until the Sunday night before Thanksgiving, a few days later than usual, it was in time to open the three-week sale that extends through the upcoming weekend, he said.

“It felt like the spirit of Pleasantville, that somehow you find a way to get it done,” Burton said.

It wasn’t just that local community members would help transport the Balsam-Fraser hybrid trees down from Canada, but Pleasantville High School Principal Joe Palumbo enlisted a couple dozen members of the school’s football and baseball teams to unload the truck on Nov. 22, Burton mentioned. A task that could have taken the Masons 10 hours or more to complete, was done in a little more than one hour, he said.

“I tell you what, we would have been there for hours on end and we’d be very, very sore if those kids weren’t there to help us,” Burton said.

Perhaps most importantly, the tree sale serves as a fundraiser for both organizations. For the Masons, they use their 60 percent portion of the funds to make donations toward a variety of charitable causes. For PIA, it helps provide high school students with an experience of a lifetime, being able to experience life in another country for several months, said Linda Dillon, who helps lead PIA.

Despite travel being curtailed because of the pandemic, a few students have resumed their plans. Before COVID-19 it wasn’t unusual to have had 15 students travel abroad in a year.

“Without this sale and the help of the Masons, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do,” Dillion said.

Burton said sales for the first two weekends have been at a brisk clip, at about the same pace as the two previous years. Last year’s holiday season came amidst a surge in COVID-19 cases and that didn’t stop residents from getting ready for the holidays.

That all the money goes to worthwhile causes makes the sale, which takes place at the Masons’ lodge, an attractive place for families to look for their tree, Burton said.

“It’s such a great community event and it allows us to make a lot of donations, and we put it back into the community and all of the things that we do that are very public but private as well,” Burton said. “The opportunity to do this fundraiser kind of fell in our lap as an opportunity to help them and now for the foreseeable future we’ll just be doing this. This has become an annual event for us.”

The final weekend of the sale takes place this Friday from 5 to 7 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Masonic Lodge at 283 Manville Rd. Hot chocolate will be available and there may also be a visit by Santa on Saturday.

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