This holiday season has Ashland chamber members dreaming of a 'green' Christmas.

This holiday season has Ashland chamber members dreaming of a "green" Christmas.

Ashland Chamber of Commerce members joined the community Friday and Saturday to reassemble the holiday wreaths that hang from lampposts downtown. The event was a nod toward sustainability, as volunteers worked to upgrade, rather than replace, the decades-old wreaths.

The wreath building comes in advance of this year's Festival of Light, Nov. 27 to Dec. 31. It marks the close of fall with an array of lights which line plaza-area buildings downtown. The chamber has sponsored the event since it began in 1993.

The weekend event marked the chamber's first stage in its efforts to make the city's annual Festival of Light celebration more "green-friendly."

"This year we're beginning our goal of transitioning to LED lights," said Chamber Marketing Director Katharine Flanagan. "LED lights are more efficient, and last longer."

She says the chamber's long-term goal is to replace all the lights downtown with the LED lights, but they are limited to the wreaths for 2009.

Though they may not earn the spotlight, the three-foot-wide wreaths add a splash of style to the yearly light display. As Flanagan noted, however, the street-side ornaments had fallen into disrepair of late.

"After 17 years, some of them were looking a little bit shabby," she said.

Dozens passed through The Grove community center on Saturday morning. Children and parents joined forces to wrap garland on the wreaths' metal frames. Tucker Gilman, 9, helped his mother wrap garland onto a frame. He said the wreath making was a good chance to support the community, and stay entertained.

"It's pretty cool," Gilman said. "I was bored, but now I'm not."

Mary Gardiner and Jane Stromberg found plenty of chances to stay busy Saturday morning, hanging new lights onto completed wreaths. Stromberg, the wife of Ashland Mayor John Stromberg, enjoyed seeing so many residents help out.

"It's important to remember that this is a total community effort," she said.

Dana Fortmiller with the Chamber of Commerce said recycling wreaths meant going beyond re-wrapping them.

"The metal frames were made 20 years ago," Fortmiller said. "We took them all down, stripped the old garland and lights." With the help of Ashland's "Rust Doctor" restoration business, they were able to restore the frames to a pristine status. Fortmiller said the frame restorations would go a long way toward preserving them for another 20 years.

"They're going to keep hanging all around town," she said.

In addition, the chamber is continuing its "Adopt-A-Wreath" program, in the hopes of raising funds for the 50 wreaths anticipated for the downtown area. Wreaths cost $250 each to adopt. Flanagan said 40 of the 50 wreathes have already been adopted, but the chamber hopes to secure donations for the remaining ten. Residents can adopt a wreath from the Chamber of Commerce Web site, at www.Ashlandchamber.com.

Elon Glucklich is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Contact him at eglucklich@gmail.com.