WAUSEON CHRISTMAS STAR
By: Rebecca Miller
As this coronavirus quarantine brings more to our daily life than sickness, sometimes in the form of despair or discouragement, everyone seems to be trying to think of ways that they can help others.
Creativity abounds! Stuffed animals in house windows to give the families something to hunt for while out on walks or drives…posts on FaceBook that demonstrate crafts and games to wile away the hours…lovingly written letters of encouragement with long lists of things for which to be grateful…baked goods and yummy casseroles left on doorsteps of friends and neighbors…conversations held from a distance with acquaintances and strangers which might not have happened in the past…and we all smile and wave at everyone because we see fewer people than we used to see.
Governor Michael DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton, Ohio Health Department Director, both continue to say, “Ohioans are doing great, but don’t stop now!” We must hang in there and keep social distancing no matter how badly we miss and want to hug those kids and grandkids. As we stay hopeful we will be able to hang in there for as long as it takes.
In northwest Ohio, two County Seats have lit up their Christmas lights to help bring Hope to their communities. Back on March 27, 2020, Wauseon Mayor Kathy Huner decided that it would be a good idea to have the city workers put “The Star” back up in South Park to encourage Fulton County residents.
A FaceBook message was sent out inviting the community to help “light up” the community by turning on their porch lights, backyard lights or whatever lighting they might have outside their home, every night at 8:30 until the Stay-at-Home order is lifted. “During this unprecedented time, this display of support and unity shows compassion for everyone affected by the COVID19 crisis,” the post said.
In an interview, Mayor Huner shared, “We always put up the star as a sign of hope and faith every Christmas. When everything started going so quickly that we had to shelter in place, the stores were emptying, restaurants closing down, etc. and I wanted to do something to raise rope and let those on the front lines know we are standing with them. ”
“It seemed so grim and all I could think about was the star because it always brings us together. As soon as it went up the FB page went crazy with thousands of views. We also asked that everyone light up Wauseon and we are still doing that.”
“People are lighting candles and Christmas lights and all in support of everyone who are still essential workers and those who are battling the virus. We want to support our downtown merchants, too. This has drawn us all together.”
Another county seat, Bryan, Ohio, in Williams County, is also doing something to lift the spirits of those who drive through on errands or on their way to their essential jobs. Dan Yahraus, director of Williams County Chamber of Commerce, got a call from a friend with the suggestion that the Christmas lights on the Courthouse be relit as a symbol of hope.
Yahraus checked with a Bryan Municipal Utilities representative, as they are responsible for the lights. They agreed that it would be a great idea and on April 5, 2020 the Christmas Lights came back on.
Yahraus explained in a phone interview the reason why the Fountain is also lit up. This year is Bryan’s 200th Anniversary and a Celebration had been scheduled for April 1, 2020, but when Governor DeWine asked for people to stay at home, that celebration was postponed until further notice.
Before the postponement, the Commissioners had asked if the fountain could be lit up in Red, White and Blue for the celebration. Preparations had already been made for that to happen, so when the Christmas Lights came back, it made sense to go ahead and light the Fountain.
“This is for the whole county,” Yahraus said. “We are in this together! We are going to get through this, and these lights are just a physical way of saying, Stand strong, we can do this!” He added that everyone should remember, “Social distancing is still really important so if you go to see the lights and fountain, please stay in your cars or stay away from others if you choose to walk.”
Williams County Commissioners have also added their thoughts. “I think it is a great gesture to do that. It gives a message of hope and it gives us a time of rejoicing rather than gloom and doom,” Commissioner Lew Hilkert said, concerning the lighting. Commissioner Terry Rummel added, “It shows respect to those in the front lines!”
May the move of Wauseon and Bryan to put up symbols of hope for their communities be an inspiration to other cities and villages, reminding us all that we will get through this.
Rebecca can be reached at email@example.com