It’s inevitable that over time, treasured traditions become the beautiful memories we cherish forever. In Trego County our most special Christmas remembrances begin at the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony in Downtown WaKeeney.
Our citizens look forward all year to the moment when we gather together at the base of our 35-foot tree to herald in the Christmas Season. This year’s celebration was made even more special when we were joined by two descendants of Art Keraus, one of the originators of our famous holiday decorations.
A Special Guest
During a trip to Denver in the 1940s, my father saw a similar, smaller tree
and modeled this one after it.”
Margaret Magill, now 89, and her nephew Doug Wiedeman traveled from her home in Denver to WaKeeney to Fulfill her long-held wish of turning on the 6,800 red, yellow, blue, green and purple lights that illuminate our street throughout the holiday season.
Magill has spent many Christmases in WaKeeney over the decades, but had never attended the lighting ceremony until this year. While she was here she shared stories with us of the many conversations she’d had with her father about the construction of the tree and it’s 3-miles of electrical cords and 1100-yards of fresh greenery, giving us yet another perspective into the story of our Western Kansas town.
A New Generation of Memories
“It’s nice to feel a part of the legacy that my grandfather left with this town,
that is still here today,” Wiedeman said. “And (the town) has expanded on it.”
For over six decades, community volunteers have come together to conduct repairs and repaint the many elements that make up our display, and they’ve taken the initiative to add onto what Art and its other creator, Jake Heckman, built so long ago.
This year, their attention turned to repainting the mural at Main Street’s North Pole Park. Originally painted in 1999 by Laurie Albin, it had begun to succumb to the elements, but after a combined effort between volunteers and Albin it is better and brighter than ever. More upgrades were made to Santa’s little house inside the park—new paint, carpet and curtains, a faux fireplace and a new Christmas tree. And, now it is ready for Ol’St. Nick and the many children who come to visit him, both naughty and nice.
Make WaKeeney and its beautiful Christmas tree part of your family’s holiday tradition and you’ll begin collecting our own treasured memories of the Christmas City of the High Plains!