by Willard S. Detweiler

Recently I attended the Circle of Trees event, the community’s annual kickoff for “Holidays on the Hill,” held at the Woodmere Art Museum.

The event brought back memories from the same event in the 1980s. Back then, it was a much smaller one, held on the front lawn of Christ Lutheran Church.

Children brought colorful mittens to decorate the circled trees. After the holidays, those mittens were donated to needy children in the area. A group of about 100 revelers would carol, enjoy refreshments and wait eagerly until the trees were illuminated.

However, one year, when we flicked the switch, a fuse blew. The lights went out, the musical amplification shut down, and I remember someone shouting, “Does anyone know where the Pastor is? We need to find the fuse box!”

Fast forward to 2014, and here we are at Woodmere, the Victorian architecture outlined in lights, cars streaming into the parking lot, and hundreds in attendance. Santa Claus arrives in an antique fire truck, escorted by police cars with flashing lights. Santa leads the enthusiastic countdown to the tree lighting. No power outage here.

Now Circle of Trees is a collaborative event between the Community Association and the Business Association with help from Woodmere volunteers. I’m amazed at how this has grown to be so spectacular. But perhaps I shouldn’t be amazed — that’s Chestnut Hill, we’re always striving to do even better. It’s a tribute to the many volunteers who work hard.

There are many more festivities on the way: Upcoming events include the Holiday House Tour (Dec. 6), the Holiday Parade (Dec. 13) and the lively, perennial Stag and Doe nights (every Wednesday), just to mention a few. It’s a great time to do your shopping. Many merchants have added inventory, special offers and, if you are a CHCA member, you’ll often get 10 percent off! You owe it to yourself to join in the fun and take advantage of all the community offers.

And finally a note about Angelo DiPinto – or, as I liked to call him, “The Mayor of Chestnut Hill.” Angelo would stroll up and down the Avenue in colorful shorts and various baseball caps, depending on which one of his favorite teams was playing. He’d seek out an old friend, or new, to chat with, share a corny joke or his latest golf game. He loved people – in particular, people in Chestnut Hill. In between all of this he’d cut hair. He’s cut three generations of heads in my family.

If Angelo didn’t have someone in his chair, he’d sit outside his shop in the sun. You always knew that was a good time to get your haircut (nobody waiting!).

I’ll never forget the day he bought the shop from Victor, his partner. Angelo couldn’t wait to update the little hanging sign out in front, handwriting his own name with a black paintbrush. As someone who had come from Italy as an 18-year-old, without speaking any English, he was very proud to have started his own business.

He’s one of the Chestnut Hill icons, a good friend, and he’ll be missed greatly.