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December 5, 2011

Christmas festivities lift community spirits

7th annual celebration raises community spirits

AUSABLE FORKS — Rosy cheeks, hot chocolate and Santa Claus riding into town in a 1950s orange pick up.

This was the scene in the heart of AuSable Forks on Saturday evening as nearly 300 people gathered for a tree-lighting ceremony.

Parents, grandparents, children of all ages and even a few dogs braved the 35 degree weather, eager for Santa and Mrs. Claus to light the tree.

Before Santa arrived, Stewart's Shops handed out free hot chocolate and community helpers began sing-a-longs with the kids.

After the tree was lit, kids got the chance to sit on Santa's lap and tell him what they wanted for Christmas.

It was a near perfect ending to the 7th Annual Christmas in the Forks celebration.

A SPIRITUAL START

The day kicked off with the 5th Annual Women's Retreat at the St. James Episcopal Church on Main Street, in which seven women gathered to unwind from the hectic holiday.

Deacon Patti Johnson, who led the retreat, said the day was a perfect way to say thank you to the women of the community.

"It started off being a gift back to the women of the congregation," she said, giving them a chance to slow down. The five-hour retreat included meditation, scripture readings and crafts.

The retreat was held at the church hall, which just three months ago was flooded by Tropical Storm Irene. Johnson said she was grateful that a portion of the hall was renovated just in time for the woman to come together.

As 2 p.m. neared, Patty Beauharnois, who aided Johnson in the retreat, reflected on the day.

"It's been a gift to us to be a part of this sharing," she said.

'AN UNDERSTANDING'

As the retreat wound down, across the street at the United Methodist Church, Cynthia Patnode, dressed in a festive vest, helped excited children decorate Christmas cookies.

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