“If you see Mary, tell her thank you.”
On Monday, Nov. 14, Main Street WSS committee member Pat Harper advised White Sulphur Springs city council members to thank resident Mary Collins for raising enough money to decorate the town for Christmas.
Some of the many things that were lost in last June’s devastating floods were all of the town of White Sulphur Springs’ Christmas decorations. The city has long prided itself in its holiday decorations, and visitors and residents alike have enjoyed the Main Street lights and banners for years.
All those decorations were stored in a building on Big Draft Road, which, like so many buildings in White Sulphur, was filled with flood water from Howards Creek the night of June 23.
Harper and Collins are quick to mention that the loss of decorations is very minor compared to the losses of lives and homes that so many of the Spa City residents experienced. However, they say, bringing holiday cheer to the Main Street is an important part of the town’s recovery.
Collins told the Mountain Messenger that the town was so busy cleaning up and helping those who’d lost everything that it wasn’t until September that anyone realized that the decorations had been destroyed.
Collins, a member of the Old White Garden Club, started “beating the streets” in order to find the funds to pay for new decorations.
“I just couldn’t stand the thought of driving through White Sulphur Springs at Christmas in the dark,” she said.
So, Collins arranged a committee, which partnered with Main Street WSS, to raise enough money to light up the town. Next, she started calling on her friends, neighbors, area businesses and civic organizations, asking them to donate money to the cause. Like many would-be fundraisers, Collins also shared the fundraiser on Facebook.
Her work quickly paid off, and so far, $26,000 has been raised.
Thanks to the donations, White Sulphur now boasts new banners, a 30-foot lighted train (located on the library lawn), three lighted snowmen and a lighted group of carolers (in the municipal park). Collins has also ordered 36 new snowflake decorations and brackets to hang on the streetlights downtown.
“White Sulphur is so pretty when you start at The Greenbrier and drive down Main Street at Christmas,” Collins said.
“It shows the resilience of White Sulphur Springs,” said Harper, who noted that many individuals, businesses and organizations who donated money had been affected by the flood themselves. “Everyone who’d received a blessing passed it on.”
Harper is looking forward to the great unveiling of the decorations during the town’s Holiday Open House, scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 3.
She invites everyone out, beginning at 9 a.m., for a breakfast at Emmanuel United Methodist Church, which people are invited to eat with a payment by donation.
Later, from 2-6 p.m., downtown businesses are offering special holiday sales and refreshments, and courtesy of The Greenbrier, there will be trolley rides through town. Also, there will be an ice carving demonstration at Midland Trail Park, a craft show at the library, and a caravan of carolers from Old Stone Presbyterian Church in Lewisburg will be singing and strolling through town.
The evening will cap off with the annual Christmas parade. Lineup is at 4 p.m.; the parade starts at 5. Revelers may then head over to The Greenbrier, where the tree lighting will be held at 6 o’clock.
This year’s theme is “White Sulphur Springs is Home for Christmas.” This year, more than ever, the sentiment rings true.