Annual greening raises money for club

MASON – Every year for the past 15 years, Arthur Ashe has been making a wreath or two at the annual Greening of Mason.

This year he was watching his two daughters, Hannah and Emily, give it a try.

For Ken Ingalls, a resident of the town for three years, it was his first attempt. By mid-morning, he was on his second front-door-size laurel and balsam effort.

Residents have been gathering at Town Hall early in December since the 1970s, said Patti Dulong, president of the Mason Garden Club. It is the major fund-raiser of the year for the Garden Club.

“The wreaths are free, the wire, a bow, it’s all provided by the Recreation Committee,” she said.

“We sell decorations for the wreaths and we try to keep everything reasonably priced. It’s to pay for our speakers during the year. We started doing it in 1998.”

The boxes of decorations – Christmas balls, artificial fruit, cones and ribbons – were staked along the edge of the stage.

The floor between long tables was heaped with pine, hemlock, spruce and mountain laurel branches.

“Sometimes we get 30 people,” Dulong said, “sometimes 60. There are people in the second generation here making wreaths.”

Paula Babel of the Recreation Committee was working on the other side of the crowded room.

“It’s community,” she said. “People you don’t see very often come and make a wreath.”

Wreaths, ropes and swags were also made for the public buildings, which would be hung later in the day by the local Boy Scout troop.

For those who have never made wreaths, Dulong said, “There are members of the Garden Club here to teach you how.”

Ingalls, the first-timer, said he had tried to come other years, “But I just didn’t make it.”

Ashe was watching his daughters. Hannah was making a ball, pushing twigs into a round of Styrofoam.

“I like the smell of it,” he said. “As soon as you walk in the door, it’s Christmas.”

The “greening” of a village is a longtime tradition in many places, a time to decorate the public buildings and the front doors.