Memorial Tree Lighting at Hillside
Holiday Event Reverts to 2 Venues


By Dianne Alward-Biery
Cleaver Staff Writer

Copyright Clare County Cleaver

HARRISON – This year’s Harrison Community Christmas Celebration held Saturday, Dec. 8 was a divided affair. While the Christmas tree walk remained at the Harrison City Market, the remaining events took place at Hillside Elementary School.

The lighting of the tree in front of the school was executed by Santa treeClaus and followed by recitation of the list of 2018 Memorial Tree endowments. Each year, the Chamber accepts endowments of lights for the tree which are given in memory of loved ones who have passed on. There were 17 names read this year by newly-appointed Harrison Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jenna Gardner. They included: Brandon Walker, beloved grandson; Thomas H. Culler; Gardner H. Stowe; Barbara M. Stowe; Jacqueline Hall; Harold Hasse; Eleanor A. Miller; Thomas J. Miller; Maxine M. Palshan; Charles C. Palshan; Daune M. See; Maynard L. Wilson; Marvin D. Wilson; Mark F. Wilson; Brandy Wilson; Twig (Deborah Sue) Gibson; and Bullitt, best pitbull ever.

Participants then returned to the Hillside gym to hear a reading by Jenna Gardner of the “Blizzard” book, which was followed by the long-anticipated visit with Santa. Each family was given a book provided by the Harrison District Library, with the hope of having enough books on hand to provide a book to each individual child.

storyActivities included ornament decorating, holiday coloring pages, making pine cone bird feeders, airbrush tattoos/face painting applied by Cat Brown, and enjoyment of the many huge Christmas inflatables. Christine Lynch also was on hand to make sure cookies and hot chocolate made their way into empty hands.

Meanwhile, outdoor on the north side of the Hillside gym, a horse-drawn sleigh wagon carted riders around a streets loop from Beech to Broad to Norway to Fourth and back to Beech.

Over at the Harrison City Market, things were disappointingly quiet as five vendors kept one another company while waiting for anticipated customers to filter in after the tree lighting. For several years, the City Market has been the site for the Walk of Trees which is a Chamber of Commerce project that encourages local businesses and organizations to sponsor a decorated tree. After the event, the trees are donated to people who otherwise would not have one.

This year, there had been a sign-up commitment of 15 trees for the event, however, only six trees were completed and onsite Saturday evening. Those fulfilled trees are quite beautiful and will no doubt make this Christmas a brighter one for the families who receive them.


One of the six trees displayed is The Warmth of Giving Tree which is an effort to collect scarves, hats and mitten to provide holiday warmth this season to those in need. Also being accepted are donations of any kind: monetary or time, as well as donations for Care/Blessing bags for the senior centers and veterans in need in Clare County. The tree will remain onsite to accept donations through Dec. 15.

The vendors who were holding down the fort that evening didn’t spend a lot of time grousing about how disappointed they were with the turnout of shoppers or trees. Rather, they spoke of the people who had contributed and their generosity of effort and spirit. One person in particular was mentioned, a man who literally churns out hats by the bushel with his knitting machine, and then donates them to organizations he believes will deliver them to people who can benefit from his efforts. Some of his hats are actually on that Warmth of Giving Tree. Residents and other shoppers might like to visit the Harrison City Market to check out his handiwork and perhaps make donations of their own.

It is interesting to note that one of those six trees was provided by a Harrison City Market vendor – the generosity of spirit there is something of which Harrison can be proud.

Harrison’s holiday season will continue with the Market’s Saturday, Dec. 15 Christmas Bazaar which will open at 10 a.m. For information about the bazaar or the Market, visit, the Market’s Facebook page, or call market master Debby Andrews at 989-330-9561. Market hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday; noon to 4 pm. Sunday.

For information about the endowment of lights for the Community Memorial Christmas Tree, call Gardner at 989-539-6011 or visit the Harrison Chamber of Commerce at 809 N. First St. Chamber hours are 9 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m. Monday through Friday.