Christmas in the Village
Saturday, December 5th, 2020
The Higgins Township Fire Department decorated the large tree on the corner of Lake and 4th Street. Where the CRAF Center is located today. Back then it was still the Gerrish-Higgins Middle School. The Roscommon High School choir director, Jim Mahoney, organized the caroling.
Through the years it grew to include coffee, hot cocoa, cider and doughnuts. Savings bonds were given to children who were the coloring contest winners. About 1,000 copies of outline drawings of a Christmas Tree were printed and passed out to elementary and pre school classes to encourage participation in the annual event
The festivities grew in the mid 1980s to include events that took place all day Saturday and even some events outside the village. Some of these events included “Breakfast With Santa,” held at the Knights of Columbus Hall, sponsored by the Roscommon Cooperative Nursery School as a fund raiser. The Good Shepherd United Methodist Church of the North, located on County Road 103, held a cookie sale at the church.
In 1994, Judy Kominek formed a committee called “Christmas in the Village.” This coincided with the Village of Roscommon buying the old middle school for $1 following the completion of the new middle school outside of town. The old building became a community building called the CRAF Center. The building was named by Joann Tyler. CRAF stands for Community Recreation Activities and Fitness.
That year the first Candle Walk was held. The idea was that of Judy Kominek who had previously lived at Flushing, where that community also held such an event. The committee used an empty class room in the CRAF Center and collected one gallon milk jugs The group cut holes in the side of the milk jugs, filled the bottom of the jugs with sand and then inserted votive candles. Nearly 1,000 jugs were assembled that year, loaded on snowmobile trailers and set out Saturday at dusk along the four main streets leading away from the main intersection at Lake and Fifth.
This committee was made up of volunteers to help make this annual event more festive. The committee organized putting out burn barrels, roasting chestnuts, caroling and offering hayrides prior to the tree lighting. The addition of Santa coming into town to visit the children was an absolute necessity.
As the years passed, new ideas came in with each new volunteer who joined the committee. The Lions Club set up a grill in front of Ace hardware and with a donation of a canned good, you received a hot dog. The canned goods were and still are used to make baskets for the needy.
Businesses were decorated with beautiful lights and a craft show was held in the old Cherven drug store (which is now the Roscommon Village Hall).
Every year the committee tried to add new and exciting things to Christmas in the Village. Filling the cement flowerpots with greens, putting up a Santa House, a free concert on Friday night (consisting of local talent), and a bigger craft show were added. Ice sculptures were added but due to unpredictable weather, the committee changed to wood carving demonstrations. The movie matinees were added for the children’ enjoyment, which are also free, with a donation of a canned good.
A Christmas parade called the “Electric Light Parade”was added in the late 90’s It started with only 3 entries the first year, and now has over 30 entries, thanks to the imagination and creativity of local businesses, organizations and surrounding area fire departments. Let us not forget Santa and Mrs. Claus who always arrive at the end of the parade.
The Roscommon Model Train Club joined the festivities several years ago when that organization built model train displays and decorated store windows throughout the village with running model trains.
Currently, Christmas in the Village is held the first Saturday of December, each year. All the previously mentioned activities are part of the ongoing tradition to date. The craft show is now in the CRAF Center and includes a Kid’ Corner for the children to make a Christmas gift. With the closing of the streets at 4:00 p.m., over 800 luminaries are added to make a beautiful scene.
The original tree is no longer healthy enough to be used as the Village Christmas tree, and therefore the two beautiful spruce trees, in the Village square, are lit by Santa and all the people after a group count down. After the tree lighting the children are invited to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
This event could not happen with out the dedication and hard work of the “Christmas in the Village” committee.