By Portia Williams
WEST PORTSMOUTH — Local Garden Clubs from Region 10 have a wonderful tradition of ushering in the Christmas season with tree decoration at the Shawnee State Resort Lodge. The long-time tradition has become a highly-anticipated event, adding beauty and splendor to the environment.
Beverly Norman, Garden Club Region 10 director, said their top priority is to honor the birth of Jesus Christ.
“First and foremost we do this to honor the birth of Jesus Christ, and when you’re involved in Garden Clubs you are constantly thinking about making things beautiful,” Norman said. “So, we started years ago decorating trees and as of late, have gotten into using more natural ornaments to decorate with. That is what the people here at the lodge asked us to do, so through the last five years we’ve started going to more natural ornaments instead of all of the glitzy stuff.”
There are 10 Garden Clubs in Region 10 which work together to place trees and a host of decorations throughout the upstairs and the downstairs lobby area of the Shawnee State Park Lodge.
“This tree here is to honor our veterans, and then we have a fishing tree, lots of critter trees is what, we call them, where we use more of the natural ornaments, the nature-oriented things,” she said.
The Garden Club’s tree decoration events are by no means haphazard. Workshops in preparation for the tree decoration are conducted prior to the actual set up and decoration takes place.
“As far as the ornaments, we have workshops before we start decorating. We start back in July, and August making ornaments for the naturals, because this takes time, so we have workshops at home and look at these things ahead of time, and kind of plan what we’re going to do with each tree,” she said.
This year’s tree decoration event is special in that all of the Garden Clubs had members present as they all worked independently.
“Each club has different places where they work, and they come up with their own ideas and work on their own decorations. The Lodge provides the funds to help with the purchasing of the items, so we just keep a list going to see what everybody needs,” she said.
One particular tree that is dear to Norman’s heart by her own declaration is the Noah’s Ark tree.
“I have put together a Noah’s Ark tree, and it is situated downstairs here in the lodge, and it is all-natural,” she said. “The ornaments include two of each animal, and all of it is made out of natural stuff, which is the most interesting part.”
The veteran tree is a conglomeration of pictures and ornaments from people throughout the local community.
“We have asked everyone to bring in pictures of a loved one, or friend that they would like to have put on the tree, and then we frame them once they get here,” she said.
The Shawnee State Lodge will host an Open House event on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.
“A lot of people come to the open house here at the lodge, and they really enjoy it. The schools come in and sing and bring their chorus groups, and of course it is really entertaining,” she said. “They also have great food, if you want to eat lunch or dinner here, and then we have people take tours to see all of the trees. I think this is something that the community can be really proud of, and I know the Garden Clubs are really proud of it, because as I said before, we like making things beautiful.”
The open huse event is free and open to the public.
Reach Portia Williams at 740-353-3101, ext. 1929, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.