n To Brad Culver and Dirk Alpers, who created a 25-foot-tall snowman that smiles at drivers on West Silver Lake Road west of Traverse City. “We just did it for fun,” Culver said. “It’s something to make people cheer up during this winter.” Culver owns Culver Meadows just to the west of the open field where the snowman stands. Alpers lent some heavy equipment from his company, Alpers Excavating, to the effort. He ran a large excavator that carved the giant snowman.
n To Julius Probert, 10, who with his mother Christina joins family friend Tammy Paull-Mackenzie every day for a ritual of wrapping presents in a storefront at the Traverse City Outlets mall off U.S. 31 in Garfield Township. “I like wrapping,” Julius said. Christina and her husband, Justin, started the Christmas present-wrapping business to help Julius cope with treatment-resistant epilepsy, which has possibly combined with degenerative neurologic disorder called toxic encephalopathy. Julius is believed to be just one of four children in the nation with both conditions. Julius can’t be physically active without risking seizures, brain-swelling or worse.
n To Tara and Jake Hurlin of Traverse City who have launched Hurlin’s Hospitality and Parrot Rescue with the goal of locating homes for parrots that have been neglected or abandoned. The Hurlins also offer a boarding service to parrot owners to fund their project.Tara Hurlin owns five parrots she has taken in and has placed many others in adoptive homes. Hurlin said parrots can live to be 90 years old, something many owners don’t consider when they buy one.
n To residents on at least two blocks in the Central Neighborhood who have festooned garages, fences, and utility lines in alleys behind their homes in a dizzying array of holiday cheer — from a lighted Creche to a moving elephant and Santa on a motorcycle. “We started with just the telephone poles, but it spread pretty quickly,” said resident Craig Dilloway. “It looks a little bit like Las Vegas back there, but it’s festive.” Dilloway and his neighbors on an alley between Tenth and Eleventh streets off Pine Street began the decoration binge about eight years ago.
n To Rob Bacigalupi, who was named director of Traverse City’s Downtown Development Authority. He had been “interim” director since shortly after the June death of the DDA’s long-time executive director, Bryan Crough. A DDA board committee recommended the DDA not replace Crough directly but instead contract with Grand Traverse County and other consultants for economic development work while the 47-year-old Bacigalupi focuses on DDA operations.