Inaugural Christmas in the Park arrives this weekend

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Au GRES — After months of planning, the inaugural Christmas in the Park will be held Dec. 10-11 at the Au Gres City Park.

Mayor Bill Borushko said every tree installed at the city campground has been spoken for and as of Dec. 2, nearly all were decorated. People will be able to drop into the park from 2-8 p.m. both days, he said.

“We have cookies, hot chocolate and the coffee,” he said. “It’ll all be in the pavilion. It will have heat, so it’ll be warm.”

Throughout the weekend, musical performances are planned, Borushko said.

“We have carolers coming in from community churches at about 6:30 p.m. on Saturday,” he said. “We expect a group of musicians from our local high school on Saturday at 4 p.m.”

Borushko said he was still waiting on confirmation for Sunday. Both days, people are encouraged to walk through the campground to see the decorated trees and campsites. Borushko said the park looks great during the day and night.

“The whole thing is really best viewed at two different times,” he said. “During the day, you really get to see how greatly the trees are decorated. At night, you see all the lights, but you don’t get to see all the decorations.”

Patrons will vote for their favorite trees in the pavilion, with one cent equaling one vote, Borushko said. He said if someone put a dollar in the jar for the tree they wanted to vote for, that would count as 100 votes.

“There are numbers on the pavement around the park, plus there will be some small flags around the trees, in case we get snow, so people will be able to identify the tree or trees they’d like to vote for,” he said.

For people who may have difficulty walking around the campground, Borushko said the city would make an effort to accommodate them.

“They have a number of golf carts people can use if it’s hard for them to walk around the campground,” he said. “If they’re not comfortable with that, we’ll permit driving, but we just want everybody to be careful, because we’re going to have a lot of walkers. We think that’s the best way to enjoy it, but we know it’s not always possible.”

Some snow would make the decorations look even more festive, Borushko said.

“I think the perfect weather would be somewhere around a 40- to 45- degree day after 6 inches of snow the previous two days,” he said.

Of the roughly 60 trees, about half were claimed and decorated by businesses or organizations and the other half by individuals or families, Borushko said. The winning tree will be announced at 7:30 p.m. Sunday night.

Borushko said everything has come together nicely for the inaugural Christmas in the Park, adding the city raised about $3,000 for it, exceeding its fundraising target.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better response from the community as a whole,” he said.

Borushko said the city staff has also gone above and beyond what was expected of it in preparing for the event.

“They’re even anticipating things that need to be done before I even think about them being done,” he said.

Former city Councilman and chamber member Dan Pockrandt has also been instrumental in preparing for the event, Borushko said, by dedicating several hours to traveling to pick up and deliver the trees.

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