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Published: Sunday, 12/9/2012

Country Garden Club helps brighten Christmas in downtown Perrysburg

BY REBECCA CONKLIN KLEIBOEMER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Country Garden Club member Gretchen Downs, left, president Ginger Knudson, center left, Perrysburg superintendent of lands and sanitation Gregory Kuhr, center right, and club member Lori Paton, right, are next to a few of the Christmas decorations the club and city work on for downtown. Country Garden Club member Gretchen Downs, left, president Ginger Knudson, center left, Perrysburg superintendent of lands and sanitation Gregory Kuhr, center right, and club member Lori Paton, right, are next to a few of the Christmas decorations the club and city work on for downtown.
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Perrysburg's historic downtown area is ablaze with holiday spirit, thanks in large part to the Country Garden Club.

The twinkling results are a particular triumph for one of the smaller clubs affiliated with the Garden Club of America, said local president Ginger Knudson.

"We're really proud of what we did," she said.

Like elves in Santa's workshop, club members gathered at the city's Public Utilities building on Roachton Road and prepared the wreaths, evergreens, and planters that would bedeck Louisiana Avenue.

The one thing they didn't make this year, though, were the giant kissing balls that have hung from the street lamps for the past 12 years.

"They were beautiful but hell to make," admitted Country Garden Club member Lori Paton, who coordinated the decorating effort.

This year the club reached into its past repertoire and cut entire small trees in half and wrapped the lighted branches around the lamp poles. The trimmings were turned into swags for window boxes, posts, and business signs - "anything that's stationary," club member Gretchen Downs said.

Metal washtubs hold balled mini trees that will be donated to the Wood County Park District for planting.

"They're delighted to get them," Ms. Knudson said.

The Country Garden Club offers gratitude to city workers who helped lift the decorations into place and string the thousands and thousands of lights.

"We could never do it without them," Ms. Paton said.

The trees along Louisiana Avenue lost their leaves in the seasonal cycle of fall but were given brilliant new life with extensive wrapping of white lights.

The club wanted a covered look similar to trees at the Toledo Zoo, said Greg Kuhr, superintended of the city's Lands and Sanitation department.

"That was kind of new, the way we did the wrap on them," he said.

Ms. Downs, who serves on the school board, joked that she had to cajole city workers into doing it by threatening to lift garden club ladies in a bucket truck and having the volunteers wrap the lights themselves.

The star of the show is the huge evergreen at Hood Park, which glows with 3,000 lights, Mr. Kuhr said.

Ms. Paton said that even though her husband has heard it one too many times, she can't resist the same exclamation every time they go by it:

"Look at that tree! Isn't it beautiful?"

Contact Rebecca Conklin Kleiboemer at 419-356-8786, rconklin@theblade.com, or on Twitter @RebeccaConklinK.



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