By Barbie Porter
The youth group from St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Evergreen is one of several groups and businesses that decorated a tree in downtown Frazee.
Youth group leader Jennie Ulschmid recalled the idea for the project began with Jay Estenson. The longtime cosmetologist and business owner of the Yak-Shack mentioned the fun idea to Jerron Aschnewitz, who is an elder at the church. Jennie explained the elder passed along the idea to her and she presented it to the youth group.
“For catechism the youth have to do service projects, so we keep an eye out for opportunities to serve the community and our neighbors,” she said. “We thought that project was a good way to serve the community.”
The trees placed along the downtown Frazee streets are a great way to bring Christmas cheer to residents and those who visit the community to shop. The Christmas kick-off was held in early December along with a day full of holiday-themed events and a snowplow parade.
The St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Evergreen youth group had several enthusiastic members. After some ideas were discussed, they agreed to have the tree’s theme include handmade crosses—some wood, others paper.
Jennie said some younger siblings learned about the project from their older brothers and sisters and wanted in. She noted it was a blessing to see the teens working with the younger kids who wanted to help make decorations for the tree.
“They did all the work at home on their own,” she said. “It was short notice. I pitched it to them Wednesday and we planned to decorate it that Sunday. But, a blizzard was to hit the area, so we went in on that Saturday instead.”
Jennie’s kids, Reece and Maggie, participated in the fun event. Reece, who is 12, explained they had experience making crosses for other projects, and they decided to keep their design simple.
As the group gathered and headed to Frazee, the crew picked out a tree and were assigned a pole that the tree would be attached too in the downtown corridor. As the decorations went up someone noticed there was no plug-in outlet for the lights. The event organizer was asked if there would be an outlet and it turned out their pole did not have power.
“It was no big deal,” Jennie said. “The kids had a great attitude and had no problem taking the decorations off and redecorating it.”
Maggie, who is 15, explained they undressed the tree and carried it down the sidewalk and around the corner to a light pole by Ketter’s Meat Market.
Jennie chuckled and said, “One student was carrying it and it looked like the tree was walking down the street.”
As the decorations went back up, a youth group member created a sign and handed it to Reece. He took it with gusto and stood on the side of the street waving and all the while holding the sign that informed those passing buy it was St. Paul’s Catechism Class who was giving holiday cheer to downtown Frazee.
The sign and waiving were done in jest, but the cheer was appreciated as the majority of those who saw it honked or waved while they redecorated the tree.
“It was a lot of fun hanging out with everyone and decorating the tree,” Reece said.
“It took less than an hour to decorate it twice,” Maggie added.
This is the first year the youth group joined in the fun, and after the good experience they have ideas for next year. The crew and friends have also driven down Main Avenue to view the trees after nightfall when they are lit up.
“It was a great project,” their mom said. “At first, when the idea came to us I honestly cringed a bit. The holidays are busy and who needs another iron in the fire. But, it was so simple and fun; I encourage other groups to consider adopting a tree next year.”