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Meridian in the News

Free Holiday Celebrations

Dec 5

Written by:
Thursday, December 5, 2013  RssIcon

from The Star Press

MUNCIE — This year, families will have more ways than one to get into the Christmas spirit without opening their wallets.

Beginning Sunday, the Suzanne Gresham Center, a division of Meridian Health Services, will welcome East Central Indiana families to their inaugural “Holidays at Gresham” event, a drive-thru light exhibit with 64,000 lights and, if all goes well, an animated, talking reindeer.

“We’ve done Christmas for years, but we’ve never done an outdoors Christmas of this magnitude,” said Fred Reese, owner of Willowbrook Interiors, one of the designers of the exhibit. “With so many lights, I imagine people looking to the sky and having to follow the lights in the west to get there.”

Staff from Meridian said they wanted to organize a lights display to provide families with another free event in the community., along with the Cardinal Greenways’ Polar Express and Minnetrista “Luminary Walk.”

All three events are organized by nonprofits who could charge for these holiday visits, but opt to use the occasion to welcome new and longtime guests to their grounds.

Meridian staff said families may traditionally come to the Gresham Center for counseling and, as such, have some anxiety about that visit. If they also attend the center during the holidays for a free Christmas event, however, they can create positive memories about the center instead.

Minnetrista’s partnership with the Cardinal Greenways has turned their annual luminary walk into an incredibly popular event, welcoming 10,000 guests last year alone. The Greenways welcomed 1,500 to their event, the most they’ve ever had.

“The idea about charging used to get kicked around, but we’ve decided not to do that. Especially in today’s economy, we wanted to give back to the community,” said Angie Pool, the executive director for the Cardinal Greenways. “It’s the right thing to do and when you see the smiles on the kids faces, you know you did the right thing.”

With the help of MITS, a free trolley travels between Minnetrista and the Polar Express, for a reading of the popular book with a tour of the Wysor Street Depot.

The Wysor Street Depot’s Polar Express event has always been popular, especially with the little ones. Santa is there, with a gift in his hand ready to pass along to children of all ages. Community leaders also read “The Polar Express,” the work by Chris Van Allburg.

With these free events, parents can sit back and enjoy the holidays as well, as they spend time with their loved ones in their community.

“We always enjoy doing things like this for the community and we hope they enjoy themselves so much, they want to come back,” said Hannah Whiteman, a communications specialist for Minnetrista. “Having these events is a great way to give families something to do, too ... a great way to boost community spirit.”

Learn more about Holidays at Gresham.

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