By HDN staff
Lights on the community Christmas tree glowed brightly Saturday night thanks to the efforts of a small group of community-minded citizens who believe in Havre.
Nearly canceled earlier this year, the annual Havre tradition found new life thanks primarily to Al Beute, Janine Donoven, Debbie Vandeberg, Tiffany Korb and Marc Ballard.
These determined individuals refused to accept the stroll's demise as inevitable. Instead, they stepped up to the plate and took the necessary steps to pull it off.
About 300 Havre residents, young and old, attended the tree-lighting ceremonies Saturday evening as Santa and Mrs. Claus flipped the switch that illuminated the community tree.
To many, it may not have seemed like much. There was no attempt to hold a parade of lights this year and no choirs, bands, or singers filled the air with carols. The speeches were short and there was only one drawing for gift certificates. The Heritage Center, too, chose to hold its annual open house on Dec. 11 this year, reducing one more event from the list of stroll festivities.
But for all those who find it easy to criticize this year's stroll, it is fair to ask the question -- where were you? What was your contribution to the day?
While merchants donated nearly $1,000 in gift certificates and Murray Barkus worked to acquire the tree, what were you doing to make the stroll a success? While merchants decorated their store windows, arranged for Santa to give a candy cane to your kids, and provided free hot apple cider to those who came to the tree-lighting ceremony, what was your contribution?
John Gallagher was kind enough to provide rides for the kids on his hay wagon and the Havre branch of The Salvation Army was kind enough to give away hot chocolate -- what were you kind enough to give?
Bob Rice and the VFW Club also provided free hot cider and carolers after the tree-lighting ceremony ended -- what did you provide?
A great deal of time and energy were contributed by a very few individuals to make this year's stroll a success and, in the process, saved it for one more year. Next year will be another opportunity for the community to pull together the needed resources to make the stroll successful -- will you be a part of that effort?
We think everyone who contributed to this year's stroll deserves a pat on the back. We also think it's time for those who criticize to step up to the plate, join the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce, or some other service organization, and start doing their part in making Havre a better place to live.