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JUST when you thought Melksham’s Christmas lights display couldn’t get any more spectacular, exciting plans have been announced for a Christmas tree with a ‘dazzling’ difference!
Melksham Christmas Lights Group – the volunteer team behind the annual display – will build a custom-made digital ‘interactive’ Christmas tree, that they say will be one of the biggest of its kind in the country.
Increasing difficulty to source a real Christmas tree, combined with soaring costs and its impact on the environment, has forced the volunteer group to think of an alternative option.
The group says that the new digital tree, which can be reused each year, will also help the town to build on its reputation as having the ‘biggest and best’ Christmas lights display in the south-west.
“To keep up with being the ‘biggest and the best’ we’re looking at a height of 10 to 12 metres, which would take us just over the roof of the Town Hall,” explained Paul Weymouth on behalf of Melksham Christmas Lights Group, at a meeting of the town council’s community development committee.
“It will be one of the biggest digital trees in the country outside of Longleat [which last year stood at 20 metres tall, costing over £900,000]. This is an opportunity to create something that is a one-off, there is nothing like it in the area – the nearest is in Fulham, London; but that’s about four metres high, so we’ll wipe the floor with that one!”
The Christmas lights volunteer, who also owns a local business, Light Fantastic Event and Entertainment, told councillors that the new digital Christmas tree would be capable of ‘interactive’ shows in the evening. Children and other visitors to the Market Place will have the opportunity to change the animation on the Christmas tree by pressing a number of buttons.
There could also be an option to add other effects, such as fake snow. “Effectively we’re creating a mini-Longleat, without the safari park!” said Paul.
The innovative plan was met with the full support of the town council’s community development committee, who described it as opportunity for Melksham to become a ‘real leader’ in the festive lights display field.
“For us as a town to be doing something so radically different, would be very cool,” said cllr Saffi Rabey. “It’s great for the town to be pushing the envelope, trying to be seen to be doing something ‘out there’.”
The environmental benefits of swapping a real tree for a digital one was also highlighted by Paul from Melksham Christmas Lights Group.
“It does mean that we won’t be chopping down a tree that has been growing for 70 years and driving it here,” said Paul. “The last tree came from four hours away – an eight-hour round-trip.
“And it can only get worse as the trees are getting further away – Longleat has run out of Christmas trees that can be cut down; the next place was four hours away; and the next place is up in Scotland.”
Paul also explained that the increase in electricity used by the digital tree would be ‘insignificant’ compared to the lights previously used on the real Christmas tree.
“As chair of the environment and climate working group, I would 100% support it from an environmental impact perspective,” said cllr Rabey.
At the meeting, councillors unanimously agreed that Melksham Christmas Lights Group could use the town council’s Christmas tree budget of £1,200 towards the cost of building the digital tree – the remainder of the cost would be covered by Melksham Christmas Lights Group.