About this time two years ago, Curtis Mundy was on a ladder in Veterans Memorial Park decking the resident tank in strings of lights to bring awareness to the American Legion’s “Holiday in the Park” which was a brand-new event in 2016.
This year, Mundy is once again searching for Christmas lights in July as he attempts to get the word out about the latest expansion to the holiday event in which he has invested so much of himself.
For this year’s Holiday in the Park, which is set for Dec. 1-24, as in the two previous years, American Legion Post 123 is inviting churches, businesses and organizations to build a holiday scene in Veterans Park, creating a holiday trail where visitors can walk along and enjoy the lights while listening to live music provided by volunteer musicians.
“We are trying to create a holiday atmosphere, where the community can come together and spend valuable time with their families, friends and neighbors, enjoying this special time of the year together,” said Mundy, Holiday in the Park chairman.
New for this year, Mundy has envisioned a new and separate walking path, a Memorial Trail for loved ones who have passed. Each person memorialized on the trail will be represented by a light-up angel hanging in the air and bearing the deceased person’s name. There is a $25 fee for each memorial angel, or $35 if two angels are desired to honor a married couple, as in one’s parents or grandparents.
“We’ll have a ceremony on opening night (Dec. 1 at 5:30 p.m.),” said Mundy, where memorial sponsors can hang their angels wherever they’d like.
Mundy said the American Legion is already accepting sponsorships. “We don’t want to be swamped trying to make all these angels at the last minute,” he said with a laugh.
“This is an extra way to make money for the kids,” said Mundy, who emphasized that the American Legion did not keep any of the money raised, but used all of it to benefit children at a special-needs dance and to provide holiday gifts.
“We’ll have our Special Needs Dance on Dec. 15,” said Mundy. “It’s a fully catered supper for special-needs kids, their families and caretakers, and the veterans serve them. We have a live DJ and dancing, and there will be free pictures with Santa. It’s a very festive night. Last year we had 92 people, and the kids got eight gifts each. Then, with the money we have left over, we buy gifts for needy families. Last year, we bought gifts for 22 families with a total of 36 children.”
Mundy is hoping funds raised from the Memorial Trail will enable his group to assist more children this year.
There is no charge to attend Holiday in the Park, though a modest donation is suggested. Free coffee and hot chocolate will be provided. Golf carts will be available for the comfort of the elderly, sick and handicapped. Veterans will be on hand to drive them. There is no charge to set up a scene, and a sponsorship is not required, though it would be welcomed. Five ranks of sponsorships are available, starting at $100, with attached perks and recognition.
Roger Sawyers has suffered a heart attack; Sawyers, Mundy explained, is one of the event’s most important volunteers and who plays a crucial role in entertaining the children, though he is not recognizable in his visible role. Mundy said the Legion is sponsoring a fundraiser on July 21 to help raise money to ensure he is healthy and jolly by December.
“He helps us. We are going to help him,” said Mundy. The car wash and hot dog dinner will be at Veterans Memorial Park July 21 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.
“Holiday in the Park is a project that brings the community together, no matter their orientation or denomination.” said Mundy. “That’s what the American Legion is about, helping everyone in the community.
Reach Curtis Mundy at 336-648-7500 or [email protected] For needy families information, call Melissa Mundy at 336-401-3255. For special needs dance information, call Darlene Romero at 336-786-6293. For music coordination and information, call Saundra Yakes at 336-902-4765. For concessions, call Janet Hauser at 336-325-0531.
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.