Weather helps tree lighting draw large crowd downtown
As he introduced two Tonganoxie Elementary School students selected to light the Mayor’s Christmas Tree, Mayor Jason Ward linked the theme of Saturday’s event of “An Old-Fashioned Christmas” with the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Project.
Ward started the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Project in partnership with the Tonganoxie Chamber of Commerce and the Good Shepherd Thrift Store as a way to help the community’s families in need and to increase awareness of the thrift store’s year-round efforts.
The old-fashioned theme recalled Tonganoxie’s early settlers, who depended on mutual support to survive difficult times, Ward said. That was the spirit he wanted to emulate with the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Project.
To further illustrate the message, Ward selected Tonganoxie Elementary School third-grader Caden Woods and fourth-grader Abby Fletcher to pull the switch to light the tree. TES Principal Tammie George recommended the two students because of their efforts to help other students, staff and teachers at the school, he said.
“Caden was seen by one teacher giving his coat to another student,” Ward said. “Tammie said Abby is always helpful to teachers at the school.”
Overall, Ward and Tonganoxie Chamber of Commerce director Shelbie Kniss judged Saturday’s activities a success.
“We had wonderful weather,” Kniss said. “I had a lot of positive feedback.”
The horse-drawn carriage rides proved popular and Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus, known to all but the youngest of the city’s residents as Andrea and Tom Putthoff, were a hit, Kniss said.
If there was a disappointment, it was that the barrels for non-perishable food donations to the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Project were not filled, Ward said. But the mayor attributed that to a late start in organizing the drive and lack of advanced advertising.
And he said Tonganoxie residents still had time to donate to the project.
The efforts were under way at the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting on Saturday, but canned goods and other non-perishables will be collected at participating businesses through Dec. 11. Donations of non-perishable food items, cash or gift certificates can also be made at the Good Shepherd Thrift Store during regular business hours of 9 a.m. to noon on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Those wanting to adopt families can call Good Shepherd at (913) 845-3964.