Organizers hope annual holiday lighted deer attract tourists, visitors to Deerfield

  • An illuminated holiday deer at Jerry’s Place in South Deerfield. FILE PHOTO 

Staff Writer
Published: 11/29/2018 12:02:25 AM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Instead of pulling Santa’s sleigh, deer around town and on the Common are expected to draw people into Deerfield this weekend.

Keep the Deer in Deerfield, promoted by the South Deerfield Women’s Club, is a local community campaign encouraging people to put lighted decorative deer displays outside their residences and businesses. The idea emerged after the Lighting of the Common celebration three years ago, when women’s club members wondered how they could make the event more special.

“We’re going to have a small herd of five and seven lighted deer on the Common. It might increase as the days go along — we just heard a business has donated a deer to the herd,” club member Denise Schwartz said.

This year’s Lighting of the Common is scheduled for Friday from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

“Of course, we want that to grow every year, but we really believe in starting small,” Schwartz said.

She said there were about 35 lighted deer around town last year, and the dream is for Keep the Deer in Deerfield to eventually attract tourists and visitors similar to the way small communities do with routes of lighted houses.

The Lighting of the Town Common will also feature live music, singing, hot chocolate and home-baked cookies. The event is free and open to the public, though contributions to the donations box are welcome.

Schwartz, who has lived in Deerfield since 1988, said Keep the Deer and Deerfield pays homage to the town’s abundance of natural resources.

“We all have deer in our yards in the wintertime,” she said. “This is just another way to celebrate who we are.”

Schwartz said the diverse array of lighted deer seem to reflect the different personalities around town. She said participants purchase their own artificial deer and lights, though there is hope a program in the future will be able to offer some financial assistance for residents who want to participate, but do not have the means.

The town established a Light the Common Fund to help support the South Deerfield Women’s Club’s fundraising for the community Lighting of the Common and Keeping the Deer in Deerfield programs. Checks in any amount can be sent to: Town of Deerfield, “Light the Common” Fund, 8 Conway St., South Deerfield, MA 01373.

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