Belfast erected its annual Christmas tree near Post Office Square Friday, Nov. 20. Even though there will be no lighting celebration, City Councilor Mike Hurley said it is important to continue traditions and events like these when there is so much uncertainty because of the coronavirus.

"In bad times, and this is as bad as it gets, barring an actual war taking place in your home, people still need and crave some semblance of normality that says 'we will get through this,' and that it can be seen that we continue to do the things that we love, like celebrating the holidays, in spite of how bad the pandemic and the economy are hitting us all," he said in an email.

"So in spite of the pandemic and the faltering economy, kids out of school, the whole awful package … we’re putting up a tree and decorating the downtown because that is one aspect of how we celebrate."

Belmont Boatworks helped install the tree with help from Hurley and Our Town Belfast Director Zach Schmesser. Gary and Sandy McKeen of Stockton Springs donated the tree. Parks and Recreation Department Director Norm Poirier helped direct traffic during the installation.

Lights will be hung on the tree Tuesday, Nov. 24, or Wednesday, Nov. 25. but there will be no gathering for the event this year because of COVID-19, Hurley said at a Nov. 17 City Council meeting. A Menorah and box for letters to Santa will be added in the coming weeks, according to Schmesser.

"In addition to the traditional significance of a Menorah and Christmas tree, these installations will provide so much needed symbols of hope for our community." Schmesser wrote in an email.