The towering pine on Main Street, trees lit on every corner, fresh evergreen wreaths on the carriage lights and window displays set the scene for the holidays in downtown Park Rapids.

Enjoy hot cider, hot chocolate and other treats at the Yuletide Sampler from 5 to 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29.

Participating businesses host this annual event as a way to thank the community for their support all year and invite the start of holiday shopping. Freewill offerings from the Yuletide Sampler will be donated to CHI St. Joseph’s Health Hospice Care.

Gather at 6 p.m. to “Light Up A Life for Hospice Care” during the Heartland Lakes community tree lighting on Main Street, in partnership with the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce.

According to a news release from CHI St. Joseph’s Health, this year’s event will honor the memory of Libuse “Libby” Tweedale of Park Rapids.

Born in 1922, Libby grew up in Chicago during the Depression. She loved baseball, gardening, the outdoors, needlepoint, sewing, reading, staying up on current events and sketching, to name a few. In her younger years, she photographed famous stars like Clark Gable and the Three Stooges. She sketched female stars, such as Betty Davis.

“Libby had such an inquisitive spirit and was so open minded. She was a true joy to visit with,” said Kasye Sherva, licensed social worker, CHI St. Joseph’s Health.

Libby made her home in White Bear Lake. On Christmas Day 2015, she suffered a severe heart attack while visiting her son, Cliff, and family in Park Rapids. From that day on, she made Park Rapids her new home. She moved into Diamond Willow, an assisted living facility. Although independent, Libby felt at ease knowing that extra care was what she needed during this time of her life.

In January 2018, Libby experienced another heart attack, with other health complications, and at that time hospice was offered to the family.

“Learning about hospice care was a journey for us. Hospice wasn’t about those last days…it was about enhancing the quality of life in the days my mom had left,” said Cliff Tweedale. “Hospice was a gift for both mom and our family. Our mom was able to be her independent self with care that truly gave her a full life until the last day. She enjoyed visiting with Teresa and all the hospice nurses and social workers, sharing many stories. Having hospice allowed us to have peace of mind and comfort. This is a team of all-stars. Everyone with the hospice care program was just fantastic. I thought ‘where do they get their people?’ Hospice is a blessing to this community. The staff were very kind and compassionate to my mom and our entire family, an appreciated gift.”

The public is invited to join in a celebration of life by giving a gift in honor or in memory of a loved one. Gifts of $25 or more to the Light Up A Life program help to bring individualized care to those in need of pain and symptom management, counseling, spiritual care and respite services. One hundred percent of the gift remains local.

Donations can be made at participating area businesses in Park Rapids and Menahga, mailed to CHI St. Joseph’s Health Foundation at 600 Pleasant Avenue, Park Rapids, MN 56470 or online at https://chisjh.org/foundation/light-up-a-life.

The Tweedale family is among 161 patients and their loved ones who received hospice care through CHI St. Joseph’s Health this past year. The hospice program has been providing specialized health care for 32 years.

“Our hospice team is compassionate and delivers expert care,” says Jessica Jensen, RN, BSN, CHI St. Joseph’s Health Hospice Care Director. “Our team is comprised of many talented individuals who are skilled at end-of-life care. Whether it is the smiling face at the other end of the phone or the home health aide coming to assist with bathing, we are here for you.”

In the spirit of the season, the tree-lighting ceremony includes a Christmas carol sing-along, roasting marshmallows over fire pits, Santa’s arrival and the countdown to light the beautifully decorated Main Street tree complete the celebration.