Tree lighting signals start of holiday season
November 15, 2019
By TOM LAVENTURE
Ironwood - The annual tree lighting was a memorable start to the holiday season on Thursday at Depot Park.
Guests said the tree lighting capped an enjoyable evening of socializing, refreshments, choral music and thoughtful remarks.
Schoeller was present with his wife, Mary Davern, and said the two have always wanted to see the Depot and museum after moving here five years ago. It took their 8-year-old grandson to make it happen.
"Because I like Christmas," said Liam Schoeller, age 8, of Wakefield. "I watched a bunch of Hallmark movies and they have tree lightings."
Michael Meyer, director of the Ironwood Area Chamber of Commerce, said this year is special with the Depot and pavilion lights replaced. The tree lights are enhanced by new snow and the new street lamp lighting, he said.
"With the tree lights on we will have a very different Depot Park this year," Meyer said. "I'm really glad that we had a good turnout tonight."
Ironwood Mayor Annette Burchell and city commissioner Jim Mildren were present for the lighting. Burchell thanked the organizers and volunteers for making the event possible. She then read a list of reflections for people to consider during the holiday season.
"Mend a quarrel; seek out a forgotten friend; share some treasure; give a soft answer; encourage youth; keep a promise; find the time; forgive an enemy; listen; apologize if you were wrong; think first of somebody else; laugh a little; laugh a little more; express your gratitude; gladden the heart of a child; take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth; speak your love; speak it again, and speak it still once again, not to the business at hand.
Burchell then recited the Moira Andrews poem, "A Christmas Legend."
Darin Schmidt, choral director and vocal music teacher for Ironwood Public School District, brought members of Accent!, the audition choir for Luther L. Wright High School. The choir sang "Carol Of The Bells," "White Winter Carnival," "Christmas In Your Eyes," and "Jingle Bells."
Schmidt said this was his first year with Ironwood School District and that the Accent! choir has done really well in everything from singing classical music at the Wisconsin Music Festival to entertaining elderly in the area nursing homes.
"The kids were really excited to come down here and we had a little more than half the choir for the tree lighting," Schmidt said.
Layla Anderson, a sophomore and first soprano with Accent!, said the choir will also be singing the songs at the annual holiday show in December. She enjoyed the Depot event.
"It was really cold and we were missing some people but I still think we still did pretty good," Anderson said.
Melissa Charles, a sophomore alto singer with Accent!, said she was impressed with the large turnout.
"It's really heart warming to see all of the community come together for something like this," she said.
Cynthia O'Brien said she came to watch her granddaughter, Kiara Wash, a junior alto, sing in the choir. She also brought Samara, a 15 month-old girl to her first holiday event.
"This was her first Christmas, her first snow," O'Brien said. "Everything is like wow, and so when they turned on the lights she really got excited."
O'Brien said she didn't know what to expect but liked that the event was well organized and that the kids were really into it and added a lot to the event.
"This was my first and we'll be here every year," she said.
After the lighting many in the crowd headed back inside the depot for refreshments and to sing more holiday songs.
Meyer played "O Christmas Tree" and other songs on a 1905 Kimball Harmonium organ that requires foot pumps to play. The organ has been in service in one place or another around the Gogebic Range for over a century and made its way to the chamber office, he said.
The tree lighting opens the door to winter and holiday activities all the way into March including the Jack Frost Festival of Lights Parade starting at 6 p.m. in downtown Ironwood on Dec. 7.
The parade is around 25 years-old and Meyer said it probably started as a way to drive more downtown shopping. That vision has evolved and changes constantly as a way to showcase Ironwood as a winter capital, he said.