“The event is very family oriented,” said Janet Pfaffinger, Lion member and chair of the Tree of Light committee. “So we want children, parents, grand-parents – anyone who can possibly come – to attend this ceremony.”
Both Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus will be in attendance to meet kids and adults alike, handing out candy. There will be Christmas cookies and drinks, including hot chocolate, hot cider and coffee, to go with that candy, as well as music courtesy of local musicians Jason Barry and Jeff Tanner, who will be performing Christmas and country songs, she said.
This iteration of the Tree of Light is an especially significant one for the St. Clements Lions, said Pfaffinger. This year marked the 100th anniversary for Lions Club International, as well as the 44th year for the St. Clements chapter. This Saturday is also the 10th Tree of Light ceremony in the village, and the group have added some new features to celebrate.
“We have some special additions for the Tree of Light that we’re just doing this year,” said Pfaffinger. “A juggler will be entertaining and enthralling the children.” The Lions will also be handing out glow sticks to the crowd that they plan to light along with the tree. This year, the Lions are also giving everyone who donated light bulbs complimentary Christmas decorations to take home with them.
To mark the occasion, Lion member Annette Kuhn, who started the Tree of Light in St. Clements, will be lighting the tree.
“I’m so thrilled and honoured that I’m going to be able to do it for the 10th anniversary,” said Kuhn.
Kuhn, a St. Clements residents, approached the Paradise and District Lions Club to start a Tree of Light ceremony in town after her sister-in-law passed away in 2006. Kuhn’s sister-in-law belonged to the New Hamburg Lioness Club, which has been running a Tree of Light in the community for years.
“It came about because I thought St. Clements is such a little town, we need something that really brings the people together. I thought this would be a really nice way of having everybody come together at Christmastime, at such a special time of year,” said Kuhn.
This year, the money raised from Tree of Light donations is being put towards updating the pavilion at the Lions Park in town.
“What we want to do is for that pavilion to be made larger to create a welcoming space for young and old people to enjoy,” explained Pfaffinger.
For the past month, people have donated $5 to dedicate one light bulb on the tree, either in memory of someone passed away or in honour of an individual. For $50, donors could light a string of bulbs on the tree, while above $50 would let people light a bulb on the star. The dedications will be read out loud at Saturday’s event.
The last day to purchase bulbs is Friday, but those hoping to support the Paradise and District Lions cause can always get in touch with the group to make a donation. The Tree of Light ceremony starts at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 2, outside the St. Clements Public Library.