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Community tree is a ‘symbol of hope and life’

“As someone nears the end of their life, this time can seem extremely dark, so may this tree on Park Rapids’ Main Street be a symbol of hope and life that hospice can provide and what we can all provide together during these times,” said John Schumacher’s daughter, Tavia Bachmann.

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Arriving via sleigh to Friday's Yuletide Sampler and tree lighting, Santa Claus sang a few Christmas tunes for the crowd. Santa will visit with children from 11 p.m. to 1 p.m. at Bella Caffe on Saturdays.

The twinkling lights on the community tree evoked an emotional remembrance of “Mr. Schu” on Friday evening.

Participating downtown merchants also turned up the holiday charm and greeted visitors.

FATHER Project members kept two campfire pits burning, distributing marshmallows and roasting sticks to eager kids.

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Children clamor to roast marshmallows over the fire.

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RELATED: Watch video clips from the tree-lighting ceremony

Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber President Candy Christensen served as emcee of the Heartland Lakes community tree-lighting ceremony. Northwoods Bank donated the 30-foot tree.

“Together, tonight we gather to kick off the 2021 Christmas holiday season,” she said.

Carolers lead a Christmas sing-along, directed by Deane Johnson.

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Lead by Deane Johnson, carolers belted out holiday tunes, joined by the audience.

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CHI St. Joseph’s Hospice director Jessica Jensen explained that for over three decades, they have partnered with the Chamber of Commerce and Park Rapids Downtown Business Association “to light up a life for hospice care.”

“Each bulb on this beautiful tree burns in honor and memory and in thanks to our loved one,” she said.

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The Heartland Lakes community tree stands bright on Main Avenue.

This year’s event honored John Schumacher, who passed away in October 2020, for his impact on the community. “His ‘living the dream’ motto and positive attitude were infectious and continued through his final days,” Jensen said.

The Schumacher family then took a moment to remember their father, husband, grandfather. They thanked hospice staff for the compassion and support they provided during John’s illness.

“As someone nears the end of their life, this time can seem extremely dark, so may this tree on Park Rapids’ Main Street be a symbol of hope and life that hospice can provide and what we can all provide together during these times,” said Schumacher’s daughter, Tavia Bachmann.

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Tavia Bachmann, daughter of John Schumacher, gives a tearful remembrance while her mother, Bernie, and other family members look on.

Bernie Schumacher, John’s wife, tearfully added, “There’s something to be said about the small-town love and support. And believe us, we felt it and continue to do so each day.

Bernie concluded, “Love harder, hug longer and live every day as if it were your last. Happy Thanksgiving and a blessed Merry Christmas to all of you.”

The community is invited to place an unbreakable ornament on a Christmas tree, located in Pioneer Park, in honor of a loved one.

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Community members are invited to place an unbreakable ornament on a Christmas tree, located in Pioneer Park. Children may deliver their wish lists to Santa's mailbox.

Children may put their letters to Santa Claus in a special mailbox at Pioneer Park as well.

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