December 8, 2011 — One tradition for kicking off the Christmas Season in Cecil County is the annual lighting of the “Holly Tree by-the-tracks.” This year the 62nd lighting was scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 3rd, 2011. The Baltimore & Ohio held its first public ceremony in 1948 when thousands of people gathered to ring in the season as lights fromthousands of bulbs on the evergreen softly illuminated the Jackson, MD hillside. For many years the company dispatched a special train from Mount Royal Station for the occasion. After 1971, the tree was dark for a time until a group of volunteers started making sure the tree festively blazed for the holiday season.
The magic of the 1954 lighting ceremony was captured on a 33 1/3 long playing record. It included carols by the B & O Glee Club and the B & O Women’s Music Choir. That old vinyl, a long unheard broadcast, has sat silently on a shelf, but recently the audio was digitized so readers could enjoy the snap, crackle and pop of a vinyl recording from a long time ago. Musical selections directed by Dr. James Allan Dash, a narration by the master of ceremonies Walter Linthicum, gasps of delight and loud applause, and much were captured on the record. So you may enjoy a portion of that festive occasion that took place over a half-century ago, we are posting a part of that audio here on the blog. (note: it may take a few seconds for the MP3 file to start, so be patient.)