By Ryan Berry
GREENVILLE — Christmas is just a little over a month away and downtown Greenville is already beginning to spread the holiday spirit. On Monday, the Christmas Tree that will stand at the end of South Broadway in the Annie Oakley Park was paraded through town. The process to bring the tree from Darke Rural Electric through the center of downtown was a slow process due to the massive size of the tree.
Erecting the tree was not an easy task and took plenty of manpower from the City of Greenville Street Department, J-Crane and Fitzwater Tree & Lawn Service. The tree will be decorated with thousands of lights and will be lit following the 20th annual Hometown Holiday Horse Parade on Saturday.
Tribute Funeral Home has been a lead sponsor of the event for the past three years. Eric Fee, owner of the funeral home, said he originally approached the mayor and the street department as a way to remember his mother who had passed away. Their response to him was, “We’ve been trying to get it done,” he said. They quickly found sponsors and a tree.
The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Fee said they probably have enough trees to cover the next 15 years.
“We placed it where it is because when you come down Broadway, you see all the lights and you see the tree,” Fee said.
Fee praised the sponsors of the event, which includes Tribute Funeral Home, Fitzwater Tree & Lawn Care, AES, Darke Rural Electric, City of Greenville, Roof Maxx, Sure Shot Tap House, Beanz Buttercream Bakery, Reigning Cats & Dogs, Turtle Creek, Sue Bowman and J-Crane. He believes there are several more sponsors that will jump on board.
Mayor Steve Willman said he wanted the city to be more involved with getting activities going in the community and has fully supported decorating the downtown area. “This is a big deal. I remember when I was a kid. That’s what everybody did. It was about the community and getting them together,” said the mayor. He remembers when the city had a Christmas Tree on the circle.
Willman credited everybody from the city for making the downtown area look festive. From the auditor’s office who helps ensure there is room in the budget for the lights to the street department who installs the decorations. “I’m so proud of all the people in the city building,” he added.
Mayor Willman admitted the decorations have had an impact in the city and has brought in several families. “I’ve talked to five or six families in the last three or four months that have moved to Greenville from different places. They come through downtown. Last year at Christmas a couple of people talked to me and said they had just moved here. They saw the lights and Christmas Tree and said this is where we are going to make a home.”
Fee said he had a similar conversation with an individual, “We actually had a lady that lived in Indiana and came to the horse parade three years ago and moved to Greenville because of the spirit that we have – the trees, the Christmas lights and all that. I thought that was an amazing, cool story,” said Fee.
Although the lighting of the Christmas Tree is quickly becoming a tradition, April Brubaker, executive director of Main Street Greenville, was pleased to point out there will be a lot of activities taking place downtown later this week. “It is getting real in downtown this week with all of the Christmas decorations up and the tree and the lighting of the tree. There is just going to be a lot of action and fun entertainment this weekend in Greenville,” she said.
The 20th annual Hometown Holiday Horse Parade begins at 7 p.m. on Saturday and the Christmas Tree lighting will take place after the parade.
Visit the Daily Advocate/Early Bird Facebook to watch the tree being installed at The Annie Oakley Park.
To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected].