Season’s greetings

MILFORD – It was the first Santa on the Oval event for the Robichaud family, who recently moved here from Raymond, where the holiday festival “was nothing this big,” said mom Melissa Robichaud as she shepherded her three children on and off the bandstand where Santa and his elf visited with children.

Despite the cold, Milford’s holiday festival on Sunday attracted many families like the Robichauds, and for much of the two hours the line for Santa stretched across the park.

The Milford Lions Club, which was established in 1946, according to the town history, has been bringing Santa to the Oval for decades.

Santa, however, has been coming here since 1914.

That was the year Milford had its first Christmas tree, and it was the first town in New Hampshire to have a community tree.

According to “The Granite Town,” it was a 50-foot spruce with 400-candle-power light and a large illuminated star donated by the McLane Manufacturing Company on top and 100 smaller stars donated by the French and Heald company.

Thirty girls who were members of a sewing club strung four bushels of popcorn, and cotton dolls, tinsel and mirrors decorated the tree, and 800 children received gifts.

“After a number of years and increasing population, the gifts have become boxes of candy, and Santa comes in an automobile instead of a sleigh,” wrote Winifred Wright, author of “The Granite Town.”

On the night before Santa arrived, the 2014 Christmas tree, set on the southeast corner of the park, was lighted by Milford Improvement Team Director Wendy Hunt, with the help of sisters Fallon and Olive Clegg, ages 9 and 5.

The Souhegan Valley Chorus led the carolling.