HARRISON – The City of Harrison has a long tradition of ringing in the Christmas holiday season with a tree lighting ceremony which includes the reading of the newly endowed names, followed by the singing of Christmas carols. That, in turn, is followed by children’s activities and the chance to have a chat with Santa to tell him their hearts’ desires.
This year, the pandemic has changed everything, including how the community can safely and responsibly participate in at least some sort of holiday activities. To accomplish that, the Harrison Chamber of Commerce provided a much scaled-down version of the event.
The Nov. 10 event at the Harrison Town Square was sparsely attended, but there were about a dozen children who seized their opportunity to write a letter to Santa and place it in the special mailbox dedicated to deliveries to the North Pole.
Tracey Connelly who served as emcee this year noted that the ceremony was being livestreamed on Facebook for those unable to attend.
Connelly preceded her reading of names on the 2020 Memorial Tree Endowment List by reciting a special poem. She introduced the poem by saying “When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.”
The poem by an anonymous author follows:
“There’s a very special garden
Where trees of memory grow
Nurtured by the kindness
And concern that families show.
The roots are cherished memories
Of good times in the past.
The branches tender promises
That souls endure and last.
It’s a place of Peace and beauty
Where bright new hopes can start.
It’s memory’s lovely garden
That soothes the hurting heart.”
Connelly then read out the names for the memorial tree, which included: Dennis Trayer, Dallas Michael Howell, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Dora, Daryl Russell, Staff Sgt. Luke Mason, Jim Freese, Diana Freese, Rodney Cornell, JoAnn Cornell, Mikey Storms, Lewis Family, Chuck Merchant, Amanda Merchant, Liz Cornell, Jerry Brabbs, Robert Holden, Grover Freeman, Rita Freeman, Dennis Vaillancourt and Jan Haskin.
The name reading was followed by the lighting of a candle by Vicky Buckley in memory of those departed.
New this year was the awarding of a trophy to the winner of the Chamber-sponsored window decorating contest, and Connelly announced the winner as the Harrison City Market.
Next, attendees called out “Merry Christmas” (a couple times) as helper elf Bob Buckley had the honor of “magically” lighting up the tree to officially kick of the season.
New this year was the awarding of a trophy to the winner of the Chamber-sponsored 2020 Christmas Window Decorating Contest: 1st place for a business went to Kimberly Michele Mixed Media Arts in the Harrison City Market – and honor accompanied by a Santa trophy. The award for best window by an individual went to Christina Herron, whose work can be seen at 3265 Bischoff Road.
Then it was time for singing Christmas carols, which was no small task – no one goes on stage to play to an empty house, but Connelly put forth a hearty, valiant effort to lead the singing and to bring out the crowd’s holiday spirit. In the time of COVID-19, everyone seems to appreciate a little bit of extra enthusiasm and positivity, and it was obvious the crowd appreciated the Chamber’s efforts on their behalf.
In short order, the Old Elf himself rolled up on Harrison Area Fire Department’s Engine 1. Santa stayed on the engine when it rolled up and paused briefly so he could wave to the children. Then, instead of the usual Santa’s lap heart-to-heart, the big guy cruised away to travel the streets of Harrison so he could wave to children – big and small – along the route from the cozy safety of their own porches and windows. Since it is understood that social distancing is a necessity right now, and a diminished crowd was expected, the thought was that “if you can’t go to see Santa, then Santa will come to you.”
Those children who did attend were treated to a candy cane and the Christmas/children’s book of their choice. And not once did anyone mention the Naughty List…
All in all, the event was well-received and brought some much longed-for community Christmas spirit to all in attendance.