Christmas Tree Lane is one of my favorite activities during the annual Celebration of Lights Festival, a tradition that takes place on the Riverwalk each year on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. This festive spectacle involves the display of 25 trees decorated by local businesses, nonprofit and community organizations that line the Riverwalk paths mid-November through mid-January.
Christmas Tree Lane began 20 years ago as the brainchild of Eric Lacher, director of parks and properties, when he saw a similar idea at the Brookfield Zoo and wanted to bring it to Batavia.
The tree project has evolved over the years and now features a fun, people’s choice contest on the Batavia Park District Facebook page where the public can like or vote for their favorite tree. It all takes place the week before the festival, with the winners being announced onstage as part of Mayor Jeff Schielke’s welcome and tree lighting ceremony.
This year’s big winner was tree No. 6, a collaboration decorated by Daisy Troop 712 and Brownie Troop 691, with their ‘Friendship’ themed tree receiving 564 likes. The group consists of nine troop leaders and 36 young girls between the two troops. The tree was beautifully decorated with silver and gold ornaments, which were handmade by the second-grade troop, also earning the girls a petal badge, which represents being a sister to every Girl Scout.
After speaking to Helen Dvorak, one of the troop leaders, I was pleased to learn more about what made the girls choose the ‘Friendship’ theme. If you’re familiar with the Girls Scout “Make New Friends” song, there is a line that goes “ … make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold.” I am not surprised this tree won, as this epitomizes the true spirit of the holiday season and a gentle reminder of what really matters.
“There’s so much craziness in the world these days, we want to teach the girls tolerance at a young age and that they should be friendly with everyone and anyone," Dvorak said. "Making the ornaments and decorating the tree really got everyone involved, all of the families worked together. I love Batavia, I’ve lived here since my high school years. It’s such a great place to live, and we want to teach a new generation of girls to work together, have fun, be creative, but also to get involved and show their hard work to the community. It’s so important to teach them a sense of community.”
The Christmas Tree Lane trees will be on display at the Batavia Riverwalk until Jan. 12. To learn more about Park District special events and programs, visit bataviaparks.org.
Katie Drum is the director of marketing and public relations for the Batavia Park District. The “Park District Dish” column runs the second Thursday of each month in the Kane County Chronicle. Contact Drum at email@example.com.