by Stephanie Beach
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — Santa Claus is alive and well in Traverse City. In fact, several of them helped retired judge John R. Milligan on Christmas Eve.
After a safe 450-mile drive from North Canton, Ohio, John turned onto Lautner Drive in Williamsburg and slid into a snowbank.
“Immediately several cars stopped and five ‘Santas’ came to the rescue, pulling the car out and sending us on our way,” John wrote. “Uncommon kindness (was) greatly appreciated by this traveler. Thanks for this Christmas gift whoever you are.”
More than 500 toys found their way into the hands of area children on Christmas Day thanks to students at Holy Angels and Immaculate Conception schools in Traverse City.
Jan Cleland of Traverse City, a retired Immaculate Conception School teacher, wrote to thank the Traverse City Fire Department and the State Theatre for their role in getting the toys into the hands of the children.
“I want to thank the T.C. Fire Department for helping collect and distribute the toys,” Jan wrote. “They arrived in front of the State Theatre with Santa and their fire truck to collect ... the toys.”
Jan also thanked the State Theatre and its volunteers, especially Lois Mainz, who coordinated all the volunteers required to present movies and popcorn to the more than 500 children after they donated the toys on Dec. 13.
“Thank you to all the children who presented toys (and) thank you to the children from Immaculate Conception School who, in addition to the toys they donated, also collected enough money to buy five bicycles,” Jan wrote.
She also acknowledged Huntington Bank for donating helmets to go with the bikes and Meijer, who donated a $50 gift card to help with the purchase when they heard the students wanted to buy bikes.
“Firefighter Roxan Hesseneur told me that all the toys collected from the children of Holy Angels and Immaculate Conception really ‘saved’ them this year,” Jan wrote. “Isn’t it something that the firefighters feel we saved them when that is what they do for our community every day of the year? For all that ... I thank them.”
The Zonta Club of Traverse City wrote to extend a special thank-you to all of the sponsors, volunteers and attendees who made the 2013 Festival of Trees a huge success.
The festival featured 34 trees in the Professional Trees category and 12 trees in the School Trees category. There also was a large selection of wreaths and other holiday decor items. Proceeds from festival events and the sale of wreaths, accessories and professionally decorated trees will benefit projects that advance the status of women and children in the community.
A team of three judges evaluated the professional trees before the festival opened, while attendees voted for the People’s Choice Awards for professional and school trees.
n People’s Choice Awards for Professional Trees were: first place, “Frosty Tells the Christmas Story” by Connie, John, Destiny and Cindy Kennedy, Melissa and Lily Wittbecker, Jessica Thomas, Karrie Shostak, and Kristen and Morgan (The Cutting Edge Hair Salon); second place, “Island of Misfit Toys” by Natalie King; and third place, “Hunting in the Woods” by Lighthouse Neurological Rehabilitation Center clients and staff.
n People’s Choice Awards for school trees went to Central Grade, Silver Lake Elementary and Courtade Elementary schools.
n Judges’ ribbons went to: Natural Trees category — first place, “Fall’s Last Breath” by Elieen Nadeau and Pat Morse (Morse Moving & Storage); second place, “An Up North Christmas” by Wally Wolfe; third place, “Whimsical Woodland Wonderland” by Deanna Russell (Jimmy Johns); in the Whimsical Trees category — first place “Frosty Tells the Christmas Story,” second place, “Island of Misfit Toys”; and third place, “North Pole Culinary Institute” by Kathy Marks, Ann Craig and Barb McGuire; and Traditional Trees category — first place, The Gratitude Tree” by Kristy Kurjan; second place, “Seeing Red” by Victoria Roush; and third place, “An Ace Christmas Zephyr” by Mary Bales and Rose Denomme (Ace Hardware). Judges’ personal favorites were “Falls Last Breath” and “The Gratitude Tree.”