History of the Basking Ridge Fire Company and the Town Christmas Tree

s greatest tradition. Town residents join each other for caroling the night before Christmas.

Every year the Basking Ridge Fire Company accepts a large evergreen tree donated by a local resident or business. The all volunteer Basking Ridge Fire Company members take responsibility for cutting the tree down and placing it on the village green in Basking Ridge center. Firefighters and volunteers also decorate the tree for the holidays, relying on fire equipment to reach the top.

The Fire Company will arrive to down the tree, clean up afterward, and transport the tree away in a couple of hours. The traditional date for the tree to be set up in downtown Basking Ridge is the Saturday following Thanksgiving Day, which this year falls on November 30th.

The only requirements is it needs to be a evergreen, at least 30 feet tall, and come from Basking Ridge.

The Cerino’s general store c.1926 Cerino Brothers, whose grocery and hardware store is where the Coldwell Banker realtor is now, and used to be Carlins, and the Pepper Mill deli. Craig Kampmier posted online that “the Cerino Brothers. Yes they owned the plot of land and donated it to the town. Kids ran the bread box in front of Cerinos up the flag pole back in the day.”

The History

Mr. Local History Project has learned that the Cerino brothers were town residents and owned the general store where the current Coldwell Banker office resides.

The Basking Ridge town green c.1940. The WWI monument is facing the church, Cerino Brothers grocery store is  to the right and post office next to that. In 1927 the island was donated to the township allowing for only a flagpole and the monument. (yes the fire hydrant didn't count). Source: Janet C. Arleo and book Around and About Basking Ridge, Liberty Corner and Lyons
The Basking Ridge town green c.1940. The WWI monument is facing the church, Cerino Brothers grocery store is to the right and post office next to that. In 1927 the island was donated to the township allowing for only a flagpole and the monument. (yes the fire hydrant didn’t count). There is reference to a WW1 three mortar “canon” on the green, but that was donated to the WW2 metal needs and was donated. Source: Janet C. Arleo and book Around and About Basking Ridge, Liberty Corner and Lyons

In 1926, the Cerino brothers owned the small patch of land in front of the store and wanted to donate it to the town. But they had a condition. The condition of the donation was the three items on the green are the ONLY items to be allowed on the small patch of grass. Nothing else could be added. What were the items? The first was the American flag and pole. The second was the WWI memorial stone that recognizes local residents who served in WWI. The third was a WWI cannon (3 mortars). All three were permanent fixtures on the town square. Another account does not include the mortars.

The Cerino Brothers owned the General Store that stood here in 1927, The property is now Coldwell Banker on the corner of Finley and Oak Street in Basking Ridge.
The Basking Ridge town green where every year the Basking Ridge Fire Department raises a locally grown Christmas tree to celebrate the holidays.
The Basking Ridge town green where every year the Basking Ridge Fire Department raises a locally grown Christmas tree to celebrate the holidays. The cannon was a WW I mortar.

People ask what happened to the WWI cannon learned that the township later donated the cannon to be melted down for scrap metal needed during WWII. So there is a reason why a tree can’t be planted on the Basking Ridge green.

How it Works?

2016 - The Basking Ridge Fire Department raises the annual town Christmas tree on the green. Source: Basking Ridge Patch.
2016 – The Basking Ridge Fire Department raises the annual town Christmas tree on the green. Source: Basking Ridge Patch.

Every year the Basking Ridge Fire Department solicits the community for a Christmas tree. The tree has to be at least 30 feet, a evergreen, and must reside in Basking Ridge. That’s it. They come to your house, cut down the tree for free, and hoist it on the Basking Ridge town green on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. It’s been done for almost a 100 years.

Tree Donations

2019 - The Basking Ridge Fire Company tree request on social media.
2019 – The Basking Ridge Fire Company tree request on social media.

Do you have a tree that has become too large or might be worthy to honor Christmas for the township? Residents who have a tree to donate can contact BRFC at: tree@brfco.com.

December 24th 7pm Sharp

On Christmas Eve every year at 7pm sharp, thousands of neighbors, friends, family and others join to carols to ring in the holiday. The songs are the same as they’ve always been (read that story here).

View from the BRPC of the Christmas Eve carolers in Basking Ridge
View from the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church of the Christmas Eve carolers in Basking Ridge. Township friends gather every year, rain or shine to carol in the Christmas holiday.
2010- Our family in front of the Basking Ridge Christmas Tree.
The Candy Cane man hands out Candy canes to kids on Christmas Eve.

Tree Donors

We’d like to thank our local residents for their generous donations. Please submit your name and year if you donated a tree – click here

Christmas Eve Tradition

View from the BRPC of the Christmas Eve carolers in Basking Ridge
View from the BRPC of the Christmas Eve carolers in Basking Ridge

Learn about the history of the Christmas Eve caroling and see the music sheets that have been in place for decades. Click Here

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