Kerri Mattatall, president of the Wentworth Valley Garden Club, conducted the tree lighting ceremony held recently at the Wentworth Recreation Centre. She was aided during the course of the program by other members of this distinguished volunteer group. Contributed by Hope Bridgewater
WENTWORTH - The Wentworth Valley Garden Club held its annual tree lighting ceremony at the Wentworth Recreation Centre recently.
Over 80 people attended, and many of them were school students from the community, as one of the primary goals of the event originally organized by former WVGC President James Bagnell was to further acquaint young people with the meaning of Christmas and its celebrations. For the purpose of the annual tree lighting, there are two permanent trees planted in the yard featuring the recreation centre and the fire hall. Members of the Wentworth Volunteer Fire Department decorated the tree in front of their hall in honour of the community, and members of the recreation centre decorated the tree in front of the centre in honour of James Bagnell. Along with the younger crowd attending, older teens and adults came to the tree lighting as a way of thanking the Wentworth Valley Garden Club for the hours of volunteer work which its members do by tending gardens at the recreation centre, the cenotaph and the community cemetery. The garden club also spends many hours decorating the recreation centre for the craft fair and for Christmas.
The tree lighting ceremony began outside on the grounds before the large community tree near the fire hall. President Kerri Mattatall introduced the program to the crowd as a light rain drizzle fell. After her introduction, Kerri 0asked everyone to sing "Jingle Bells" and then, after the crowd verbally counted down from 10 to one, an electrical switch was touched to light both trees simultaneously. Nothing happened but continuing darkness! This caused some laughter but, the next time the switch was touched, the decorated tree lights gave out a beautiful colour and glow. These two trees will stay lighted for all the Christmas season.
Then, Kerri invited everyone to come in to the recreation centre. At the entrance the garden club had decorated a beautiful Christmas tree and other items, and inside there was another very tall decorated Christmas tree (also beautiful) on the stage, wreathes on windows and twig decorations on tables. What made the children chatter with excitement were the long tables up front covered with gingerbread cookies, other sweets and, especially noticeable, three beautiful gingerbread houses.
Before all the people could eat, Kerri gathered the young people in a circle at the front of the room to tell them a story called "Bear Stays Up For Christmas." The centre quieted down from talk and laughter so that the adults and older teens listened as well. The theme of the book is about the importance of having friends at Christmas time. The bear wishes to stay up for Christmas instead of going in to hibernation because he realizes how both Christmas and friendship co-exist together. After Kerri finished the story, she gave out gifts of candy and announced that those three school children who each received a candy wrapped in red foil would each win a prize of one of the lovely gingerbread houses. The lucky winners were Brooke Lynds, Megumi Ozawa and Makoto Ozawa. Then Makoto Ozawa became a hero and a representative of the true meaning of Christmas. Makoto went up to Kerri and said: "I am the brother of Megumi and it is not fair to have two gingerbread houses in our one home. I would like to give my gingerbread house to my friend David Ripley." Then, because of Makoto's kindness, David Ripley received a gingerbread house to take home. A second story of the gingerbread houses is another example of the true Christmas spirit. The gingerbread houses were made and then donated as gifts by Todd Seymour, Sonya Seymour and Kim Shand.
Then, it came time to eat all the treats on the tables and have a choice of drinking hot chocolate or apple cider. Members of the WVGC had made all of these treats and drinks themselves. Once again this distinguished volunteer group, the Wentworth Valley Garden Club, showed its good work at Christmas time in the tree lighting ceremony. In addition to President Kerri Mattatall, there are the treasurer, her husband, Ian Mattatall, the secretary Pearl McCabe and, of course, all the other volunteer members.