NEWBURY — The gifts are unwrapped. The stockings have all come down from the chimney. But don't be so quick to toss that dry Christmas tree to the curb.
Newbury Fire Rescue is collecting as many trees as it can get its hands on for its second annual Old Newbury Bonfire on Saturday, Jan. 14, on Tendercrop Farm's growing fields at 71 High Road.
Lt. Jonathan Kelley said organizers didn't expect the crowd of about 4,000 adults and children who turned out for last year's inaugural event.
This year, Kelley is expecting an even bigger crowd and an even larger bonfire. The department is on track to amass more trees than last year, when 18, 30-cubic-yard containers were filled with evergreens.
"The first one went awesome," he said. "A lot of people saw it as a fun thing to do," he said. "There's not much to do in January, and this is something for the kids and families."
It's also in keeping with tradition when ash was used to fertilize the land.
"Back in the day, they used to do it for farming," Kelley said. "It was good for growing the crops."
In addition to Tendercrop Farm, Newbury Fire Rescue has partnered with Historic New England, which operates the adjacent Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm on Little's Lane off High Road, for the event.
The fun gets under way earlier this year, at 3 p.m., and there will be plenty of activities before the bonfire gets lit — from a treasure hunt and Christmas tree toss with prizes for the winners to a marshmallow roast and a steady stream of music.
The late-17th century manor house at Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm will be open for tours, and there will be skating on the pond on the Tendercrop fields, as well as sleigh rides and sledding, weather and conditions permitting. A variety of raffles is also planned before the event winds down at 9 p.m.