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Nativity set on Foxboro Common
In 1992 the Foxboro Jaycees took over the responsibility for not only setting up the scene each December, but storing, repainting and refurbishing the set as needed. 60 years later, we continue the tradition each year.
The completed display:
Keeping holiday tradition alive By Vin Igo, The Foxboro Reporter, 1992
The annual appearance of the town’s nativity scene, formerly housed in its own wooden manger and now erected at the Common bandstand, marks the continuation of a local tradition which began in the early 1950s.
It was 6 degrees below zero on the day the classic nativity figurines were delivered to the home of Mrs. I.W. Reynolds, then-president of the Foxboro Women’s Club.
Florence Buckley, who moved to Foxboro in 1944 for her husband, the late Dr. Francis C. Buckley, also were instrumental in drumming up support for the project.
Mrs. Buckley organized community fundraising activities, which involved all the churches in Foxboro. She was assisted by the late Helen Spillane, who politely, but determinedly, obtained contributions from most of the local merchants.
After the figurines were first delivered, there was still some question of how they would be assembled. Mrs. Buckley contacted Walter Ridley, who was a pillar at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, and less than a half-hour later a work party rolled up in front of her Main Street home — where she still lives, by the way.
Mrs. Buckley unsuccessfully attempted to bring coffee from her house to the men, who by then had transported the figurines to the Common and were hard at work in the sub-zero chill.
“But the water froze before we could get it to the center of town,” she recalled this week.
Over the years, age and vandalism have both taken their toll on the traditional statues.
Many years ago, Foxboro native Luke Ford now living in Florida, put his artistic ingenuity to work repairing and refinishing the pieces. But it was a stop-gap measure at best.
Over the past year, virtually all of the 20-odd pieces have been refurbished by Debra Wood of the Foxboro Jaycees. She undertook the project without any particular training, and completed the work in her father’s barn off High Street.
The Jaycees now assemble and then disassemble the nativity scene each year as one of the organization’s ongoing community service projects. The figurines are stored in the former Quaker Hill School in South Foxboro, where they had been severely vandalized at some point over the past year.
Through her efforts and hard work, Debra Wood has shown the same community interest and civic spirit demonstrated by those women who helped acquire the traditional figurines on the public’s behalf more than 35 years ago.