Two ‘must see’ events

December 7, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Todd Taylor

December is now upon us here in Dufferin County. The past weekend, two key “must see” events opened for all to enjoy.

Theatre Orangeville’s David Nairn and his team of talented thespians opened “The Last Christmas Turkey” show to rave reviews!

The other great Dufferin county ritual that is now open can be found at Kay Cee Gardens in Orangeville.

If you have never been to the opening of Optimist Christmas in the Park, you and your family are missing out on a wonderful evening. The purpose of opening night is to congregate as a community and participate in the countdown from ten as Christmas lights brighten the night. Kids love it and I do too!

As in years in the past our key community leaders such as MP David Tilson, MPP Sylvia Jones, Councillors Gail Campbell, Don Kidd, Nick Garisto, Orangeville Police Chief Wayne Kalinski, and acting Deputy Chief Lindsay White were all a key part of the opening ceremonies.

The holiday singing put forth by the Theatre Orangeville Youth Singers was enthusiastically appreciated by the crowd and the performance by the Land of the Glass Slipper princesses was outstanding.

As a member of the Optimist Club I have been part of preparing Christmas at Kay Cee Gardens for some time now. In the park you will find fun Christmas displays which celebrate beloved characters and other more traditional exhibits that are sponsored by community minded local businesses such as MacMaster Buick and Orangeville Chrysler.

This year I found myself wandering through the park really taking time to appreciate each display. I could not help noticing the angel tree. You can see this fine display on the south side of the path by the Bythia Street entrance (across from the Police trailer). This year, the display was completely redone by ODSS teacher Ian Budgell and his students Taylor Hurst, Grace Grant, and Hannah Spencer. After many years the old tree had become dilapidated, yet there was great trepidation and sensitivity to changing anything about the traditional display. I am pleased to share that the 2017 rendition is truly stunning and a very fitting memorial.

You see, the angel tree was created by a group of bereaved parents in Orangeville. If you take time to look at the display, deceased children from Dufferin County are listed in various places on the tree. The children’s names are celebrated on the tree by their parents, family and friends. The goal is to honour children from the area, which for a variety of reasons, are no longer with us. Local Orangeville resident Diane Lawson, who acts as the caretaker of the display, explained the tree to me in this way, “We all suffered the pain (of losing a child) and now others get to benefit from the difficulty we experienced.”

I imagine that bereaved parents who attend Christmas in the Park find it very emotional to see the lights turned on and then view their child’s name on the tree.

As I learned more about the display and its purpose, it occurred to me that perhaps the tree is not joyous for people. I have now come to realize that it is indeed therapeutic for people. Christmas time can be difficult for these families (and all families who have experienced the loss of a loved one), but seeing the name of your child on the angel tree is an overt reminder that those people did indeed exist and people remember them. The angel tree does not solve grief; but it does aid in the healing process.

If you know someone who has lost a child and they would like to be a part of the angel tree, there are a few ways to make this reality. Diane Lawson can be reached at 519-938-7355 or you could simply contact the Optimist Club of Orangeville. The parent of a deceased child must be the one who makes contact. Ms. Lawson will work with the family to have their child’s name engraved and put on the display. It is noteworthy that Bill Elliot of Broadway Engraving does all of the work for free. It is his way of giving back and is certainly appreciated by the community.

The new angel tree has a distinct personality. Diane summed it up by best by sharing, “The angel tree offers great comfort to a group of parents who belong to a club, a club that they would really rather not be a part of. I have watched people at the park in great pain. People need to know that they can move on with their lives.”

To me, the greatest thing about our area is the sense of community we all share. Take a moment to read the names on the angel tree and discuss the reasons for the display with your family. Hug each other, and then enjoy the rest of the park.

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