Let there be light -- Jaycee David Fisler, left reacts as the power is restored to the common at the exact moment Paul Lanza places the angel on the Foxboro Common bandstand.  Photo by Robert Gillis
Let there be light — Jaycee David Fisler, left reacts as the power is restored to the common at the exact moment Paul Lanza places the angel on the Foxboro Common bandstand. Photo by Robert Gillis

by Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter 12/2014

This story begins with a very nice affirmation. Christmas miracles – they still happen.

And it should be noted before I go further I swear this is true; and there are witness and photographs!

It all begins this past frosty Saturday after Thanksgiving. As is our tradition for over four decades, the Foxboro Jaycees were up early, shoveling out the storage area for the Nativity Set and holiday lights, loading up the trucks with the (very) heavy plaster figurines, and heading to Foxboro Common to begin our holiday decorating.

Earlier that same morning, some sections of the town lost power for a moment or two, but one section of town had no power – and as we unloaded the decorations and carefully lifted the Nativity statues onto the bandstand, we realized that Foxboro Common also had no power.

Now, LIGHT wasn’t the issue; being 9am and all, there was plenty of available sunlight for us to see what we were doing. But when you’re stringing dozens of sets of lights onto five or six bushes around the bandstand, you want to be sure they actually WORK and LIGHT UP while you’re arranging them – this ensures no surprises in the evening.

We’d heard power should be restored before 9:30 so we began other tasks – and then the small Christmas miracle happened.

I swear this is true. Jaycee Paul Lanza stepped up to the bandstand with the angel. I got him in focus for the picture.

“Which side does it go on?”

Jaycee Dave Fisler looked up from our handy reference image (we always bring a few from last year for guidance).

“Left,” Dave replied.

So Paul carefully affixed the angel to the left of the new “Bowdich Bandstand” plaque…

And {wait for it} at the PRECISE moment:

The bandstand lights came on. Power was restored.

Not a moment before, not a moment after. Paul put up the angel, the lights came on.

And then each of us said some variation of, “Did you see that?” and “The angel went up and the lights came back on!”

Christmas miracle!

So, with that amazingly perfect moment, we began our work in earnest. Paul’s boom box now had power to blast the Christmas tunes. Nativity chairman Kathy Brady – who even the day before was touching up the paint on the figures, began working with other Jaycees to carefully lift and position each (again, very heavy!) figure into place, then went to get two bales of hay.

Decorating Chairman Lynn Freerksen was busily separating sets of lights, ribbons and bows, while over a dozen others worked briskly across the common.

We had a LOT of people helping that morning and the friendship and good spirits quickly won over the below-freezing temperature.

All 24 lamp posts on the common were wrapped in green garland and got a bow. The bushes at the foot of the common were encircled with numerous sets of color lights, and at the top of the common, white lights went up on all the bushes surrounding the bandstand.

Another group was at the iconic Foxboro sign, putting up the large wreath and garland. A new bow was needed this year and quickly attached. Lynn had an idea for bells on each side of the sign – it looks great!

Others put up lights. With practiced experience, the Nativity set is placed into correct positions. We good-naturedly joke as we move the (very heavy) figurines that we have to watch our language around the holy family! While some of those figures weight over 400 pounds and take five guys to lift, we have to keep our mumblings to ourselves!

And suddenly it’s ready. The hay is spread. And with ingenuity, the Jaycees came up with a new way to put the fence/barrier around the set so that it doesn’t damage the recently refurbished bandstand.

We’re laughing, telling bad jokes, catching up on news and each other’s lives and making plans for the busy month ahead. So much activity…

“Hey, the banners are already up!” someone says. We’re grateful to the highway department for getting our “happy holiday” banners up so soon! They look really nice, a new Jaycee tradition since 2011.

Above, the sky is beautiful bright blue, belying the frozen temperatures. But we don’t care. Well, that’s not true, we’re shivering, but as we get caught in the moment we tend not to notice too much.

And by noon, we’re wrapping it up, empty crates and ladders are being loaded into trucks, people are off to the rest of their day, but most will be back for the lighting that evening — the Jaycees are collaborating with the town and Recreation department for a new tradition, a holiday tree lighting on the Common – awesome.

And I as I drove home, finally realizing how very cold I was, I was also feeling pretty happy. That Nativity set is cherished by so many people who will visit it this season. Uncountable others will appreciate and admire the lights. We know that it makes a difference to so many people. And if feels good to continue the tradition.

See, sometime in 1953 or so, a beautiful Nativity set arrived in Foxboro. Local groups first set it up on the Common, and then in the 1960s the Foxboro Jaycees took over the responsibility for not only setting up the scene each December, but storing, repainting and refurbishing the set as needed. 60 years later, we continue the tradition each year. It means a lot to place the set on the bandstand the Jaycees built in 1972, recently re-dedicated this summer.

It’s a responsibility and tradition we absolutely cherish.

I love being part of this (and so many other) special events each year. Seeing friends who have become like family over 21 years. Making a difference in the community. It’s awesome.

I love being a Jaycee. And while most of us will tell you we would love to do this in August, there is a little bit of the magic and holiday spirit in the air on these frozen winter mornings as we make the Common beautiful for the season. And a small chance of hypothermia, but I digress.

See, this morning, in one little magic moment at precisely the right time, we got a little affirmation, a little miracle, to start the day off perfectly. A moment that made us all kind of stop in wonder and think about miracles big and small. Well, I thought it was pretty amazing, anyway!

Coincidence? Something more? You decide.

But friends, take some time to drive over to the common and see the Nativity set and lights and share in a little of this season’s magic – you’ll be glad you did. And remember – it’s absolutely true that this year’s decorations actually started with an angel, and “Let there be light!”

Foxboro Jaycees and friends at the annual Common decorating, 11/29/2014
Foxboro Jaycees and friends at the annual Common decorating, 11/29/2014
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