Tuesday afternoon after our editorial was written on the status of the iconic lighting of Mason Park each Christmas, one of the organizers came into the office declaring a hopeful victory. A group of mostly young people, buoyed by local businesses, pledged their help in varying capacities.
Despite many of the ornaments being in rough condition, lights being out and time ticking dangerously close to Christmas, enough people have stepped forward, it appears, to light the park — albeit it likely will be in a more limited display than what locals have been used to.
Just to refresh the memories. A committee of dedicated, yet aging volunteers have for the past 20-plus years given up countless hours to bring the people of Laurel a display in Mason Park on 7th Avenue that is like no other. Lights, angels, rocket ships and Santa Claus literally bring the park alive once the natural light disappears. The City of Laurel provides the electricity, but has nothing to do with presenting the display.
That, likely, led to a lack of volunteer support over the past several years. Passersby likely saw a public park and figured the city was responsible and let the city works do their thing.
Two years worth of pleas for more help — the average age of the group of seven volunteers to produce the display is 68 years old — went unanswered. Only when organizers delivered the bad news — like Santa Claus did to the elves in “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” — that there would be no display did the lights begin to shine.
Thanks to all those who have stepped up. The display will be much smaller than what we are used to, but if those who rose to keep the special park displays can take that passion and momentum into the future, the display will be bigger and better than ever come next year. Putting that display together takes months of preparation, sweat and toil. The biggest obstacle for the “newbies” will be learning all the intricacies that go into creating that display. That work will have to start in the summer swelter well before anyone, outside of Walmart of course, begin to put up Christmas displays.
This is a start, though, and one we all hope takes root in the next generation of Laurelites who are stepping forward. Of course, many people have “volunteered” with the display in the past for a Saturday or two, then realize how much work goes into it and are never heard from again. It takes a special kind of dedication to take on that undertaking every year — and that is the part that will need to be learned most of all.
Just as Rudolph stepped up with his bright red nose to lead Santa’s sleigh and save Christmas, the lights appear to be shining again in Mason Park.