If you've been watching weather reports (or looking out the window, depending on your location), you know it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Minnesota. For some, it may seem a bit too soon for the kind of ground cover that gets us in a holiday mood. But for some young patients at Mayo Clinic Hospital's Saint Marys campus, preparations for the holiday season began back in July. As the Rochester Post-Bulletin reports, the pediatric patents teamed up with students in the area to craft roughly 1,000 ornaments for this year's Capitol Christmas Tree. The Minnesota-grown tree, bound for Washington, D.C., made a stop in Rochester last week to pick up some decorations and spread a little seasonal good cheer.
The ornaments made by patients at the Mayo Clinic Children's Center were created during a special "Christmas in July" event, according to the P-B. Now they're helping to adorn trees in the hospital courtyard as well as the big tree destined for the nation's capitol. The Dolores Jean Lavin's Center for Humanities and Medicine at Mayo Clinic, the newspaper reports, "worked with the schools and community to coordinate the project and provide money for the materials." Jane Matsumoto, M.D., member of the center who led the team to plan last week's event, says the theme carried through in the ornaments, was "Joy, Peace, and Health."
The big tree -- the first to make the trip to Washington from a Minnesota forest since 1992 -- is making stops in 30 communities along the way. There was quite a party when it stopped at the Rochester Peace Plaza on Friday, Nov. 7. The event included performances by the Rochester Youth Dance Theater, Bella Voce Young Women's Choir, Words Players Theater, bell choirs, presentations by public officials, visits by Smokey the Bear and live reindeer, hot chocolate and food vendors, a gift drive for Toys for Tots, a food drive for Channel One, and more. Not to mention local Elvis Presley impersonator Brad Boice. We're told about 13,000 were part of the festivities.
If you were there, in addition to getting a chance to dance with Elvis, you might have overhead statements like, "That's a big tree!" and, "I lost it when I heard the bagpipes," and, "My son is hospitalized and I am so grateful hospital patients were included earlier in the week." Sinead Chick, a member of the celebration planning team, said, "I feel blessed to live in a community where we come together to celebrate time honored traditions, such as the Capitol Tree Tradition, this celebration is showcasing our community spirit and talent." Dr. Matsumoto summed it up thusly: "It was a grand and memorable day and a wonderful send off for Minnesota's Capitol Christmas tree and the ornaments."
If you missed the fun, you can still help spread some early holiday cheer by sharing your comments below and by sharing this story with others using the handy sharing tools atop this page.