WELLSBORO — For at least a quarter of a century, middle school students have decorated the trees on the boulevards prior to Thanksgiving.The eighth grade student council members spend a morning before Thanksgiving hanging the ornaments on the 20 trees on Main Street between East Avenue and Charles Street.
This year, COVID-19 changed that.
“With everything going on and going (to remote learning), we thought maybe it was not the time to bring the kids down,” Heather Ladd, middle school student council advisor, said.
Scheduled for last Thursday, the decorating was postponed as the school district prepared to begin remote learning this past Monday. The trees and wreaths were up with lights, courtesy of the borough work crew, but lacked the traditional red glass ornaments.
Like all holiday miracles, something a little magical happened. By Monday afternoon, the trees were decked out with ornaments in time for the traditional lighting on Thanksgiving.
Ladd reached out to members of the teacher’s union and invited faculty and their family to help decorate Wellsboro’s downtown.
“I didn’t want to leave Julie (Henry, chamber executive director) and the chamber in the lurch,” Ladd said. “So we got teachers and family to help.”
Henry said the chamber, which purchases the trees, was mulling other options but soon learned that wasn’t necessary.
“We had a couple other plans, but Heather Ladd, who has been heading up the students for several years now, felt like she didn’t want to leave us without somebody to put the balls on,” Henry said. “She organized the teacher’s union, which I felt was really nice.”
About 15 teachers and family members turned out. Some brought their children. Jessica Webster, a biology teacher at the high school, brought her mother, Danna Darrow.
First grade teacher Melissa Ryan invited student teacher Morgan Bishop to help. With a cell phone playing Christmas carols nestled among the tree branches, they quickly had the tree covered in ornaments.
“She got an email and asked me if I wanted to decorate trees and I was ‘Yes, of course,’” Bishop said.
“We love it. We’re always willing to help the community out in any way we can,” Ryan said.
The decorators seemed to enjoy the task. Those that brought back boxes and supplies to the chamber office “said they had a ball,” according to Henry.
“This year everybody is making adjustments to get things done as best they can in the current atmosphere. It’s just nice when people step up to help out,” Henry said.