story and photography by Emily Hormann

Local nursing home Chesterwood Village was open to the public to spread some holiday cheer to the residents through a family-friendly Christmas celebration.

Chesterwood Village, a senior living center owned by the company Hillandale, holds an annual Christmas event around the holiday season, and this year was no exception. This year’s event was titled “Making the Season Bright at Chesterwood Village.”

At noon on Dec. 7, the doors were opened for the public to come inside and explore the holiday-decorated Main Street, the main lobby of the facility, which is themed as a small town one can walk through. All around, attendees saw Christmas trees, tables filled to the brim with crafts up for sale, and some special guests―including Santa Claus―making their merry way.

“We have [cookie decorating], face-painting, and [other kinds of] family events,” Director of Community Relations for Hillandale Jane Gegner said.

In addition to a craft fair, a professional balloon artist, and a hot chocolate bar, the event featured a Christmas Tree Walk.

“We give people a map, and they can come inside and they can go [find the Christmas trees],” Gegner said. “Each tree is decorated [differently], so families like to come in and get their picture taken in front of all the different Christmas trees.”

Vera James has lived at Chesterwood Village for 13 years and has attended every annual holiday event put on for since then. She was very impressed with the Christmas Walk this year.

“The [tree] in the lobby is very pretty,” James said. “Prettier than last year’s tree.”

According to Gegner, not only is the event fun for kids, but the craft fair made Christmas shopping easier for the residents.

“Sometimes people, especially with the weather, don’t want to go out shopping when it’s cold,” Gegner said. “[Instead,] they can do Christmas shopping right there.”

East sophomore Kira Day attended the event, and she enjoyed meeting the residents and seeing the happy, upbeat spirit of the small children attending.

“It was really fun for me,” Day said. “My face hurts from smiling so much.”

In future events, however, Day would like to see an improvement in the seating layout.

“Some people really wanted to talk to their grandkids, or even great-great-grandkids, that came to the event,” Day said. “[There were] quite a few tables, but there were a lot of people there. I think it could probably use more seating.”

Overall, James had a lot of fun at the event with her great-granddaughter and her great-great-grandson. She said this year has been the best year yet.

“I think they’ve gone all out [this year],” James said. “The food display just keeps getting bigger and better.”

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