GLADSTONE, Mich. (WZMQ) – On Sunday, the Gladstone-Rapid River Kiwanis Club lit the 2023 Christmas Tree of Honor and Remembrance.
Kiwanis Club representatives, community members, and even Santa Claus gathered in front of the Gladstone Beach House to turn on the lights wrapped around and cascading down the flag pole.
“We’ve been doing this for seven or eight years now,” said Club President Alan Stotz. “We actually started out with a real tree, but unfortunately we had squirrel problems, so we asked the City if they would let us use their flag pole and they’ve done that for the last four years.”
In addition to lighting up Van Cleve Park, the Tree of Honor and Remembrance supports a worthy cause. Leading up to the tree lighting, supporters purchased lights to honor or in memory of a loved one. This year, approximately 70 names are represented on the tree.
The cost for one light was $5, or $10 for three lights. According to Stotz, that money will go right back into the community.
“Last year, we used it to finance a couple of scholarships for two Key Club high school members in Gladstone and Rapid to give them a little money to help with their continued education,” he said. “We’ve also done things like support the BraveBot robotics team here in Gladstone. We’re probably going to take some money this year and help Rapid River start up their Science Olympiad again.”
Stotz says the Tree of Honor and Remembrance furthers the Kiwanis Club’s mission of improving life for the community’s young people.
“If we don’t invest in our youth and the people coming behind us, if you will, then the world’s future doesn’t look very good,” Stotz said. “I think that it’s important for us to put youth in the best possible position we can while we still can before we age out.”
Click here to view the full list of names for this year’s Tree of Honor and Remembrance. The tree will remain lit through Friday, January 5.
Tune in to WZMQ 19 News on Monday, December 4, to see footage of the tree lighting.