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A committee was formed separate from any “central planning” persons. Ms. Thomas took the lead, engaged Trev from city streets to help coordinate displays due to his extensive experience in Elk City. Mulligan McCarthy of Lanthier Winery joined Chris Lanthier on light display design & a hard effort was made to identify & build the best displays possible in the 2 week time from Thanksgiving to opening day on Dec 8th. Local Facebook pages & especially You & Free Press readers were consulted & your wonderful ideas were integrated into the both the Wonderland Festival & Light Spectacle. For those who don’t know JB donated, funds, time & material to the festival & at one point had volunteered to fill in as Santa if needed. For those who don’t know, Andrew worked both nights helping at the Santa tent & it is Andrew that deserves the thanks for working with the city to fund the train, snow globe & ice rink. For those who don’t know it was the Bill Barnes at the Community Foundation who worked with donors of the Jefferson County Children’s & Grandmas Cookie Jar Fund to award about $2800. for additional light purchases beyond the winery’s promised 15k. Several elected officials, including Judge Elect DJ Mote & County Councilman Ray Denning donated, as did John & Lori Heitz of the Red Pepper who provided 500 cookies & Renie Stephans from the State Park made sure dozens more were available. For those of you who don’t know Mayor Welch came to the park & personally met & thanked the winery staff for all our hard work. For those who don’t know, we expected no more than perhaps a 1500 to 2000 persons. Instead more than 7500 walked through the nutcracker entrance gates, under the lighted arches to visit the Frozen Forest, Snowman Land, Christmas Woods, the North Pole & Candyland that made Wonderland in the Park the festival & light display not just Ms. Thomas & Andrew dreamed of, but the community envisioned as well.
I deeply regret that I can’t begin to list all the wonderful people who shared great ideas & offered money & time saving ideas. Without those wise words the event would have been far less. All I can say is that Wonderland in the Park and the Riverfront Festival of Lights exists not because of Lanthier Winery, or a select small group but because so many cared so much and helped in whatever way they could. I personally am proud to have been a part of it & to lend my business reputation & financial support to it. But, without Tawana, Andrew, Sarah, Trev, Stuart, Mulligan, Gabby, Chris, Debbie, Susan, JB & the many persons who served as advisors or on unnamed, uncredited committees nothing happens even with all the donated money & time. That said, planning for next year begins today- so what are you suggestions- remember we are just starting, we are looking for more sponsors & funding but mostly, in the spirit of the season – we are looking for sharing, caring & kind ideas. Thank you Madison & Jefferson County for coming together this holiday season. There are so many touching stories about this event, the families who attended, the children, both poor and well to do that perhaps JB will share in the coming days as we celebrate the Christmas in our hometown.


Added: December 12, 2018
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JB-
Just wanted to help clear up any confusion about the Festival of Lights and Wonderland in the Park. The event & light spectacle are not actually tied to the Christmas Central Planning Committee. As best I understand a small group of people including Ms. Perry of Main St. , Ms. Bloos of the Chamber, Andrew from the City, Mr.Kelsey from MCS and of course Ms.Thomas & Ms. Prasil from Visit Madison –met several months back to discuss how to enhance the holiday celebration in Madison. It was Ms. Thomas who suggested the community create a riverfront light event. (It was chamber who attempted more than a decade ago) Mr. Kelsey focused on the Christmas parade as he has for several years & his efforts have provided the community a wonderful expansion on an event that was all but deceased prior to his intervention. Andrew of course has long wished for a Riverfront holiday festival that included free activities for the families of Madison & Jefferson County –it was he who tested a scaled down version several years back. At the time Andrews’s small committee had no title sponsor, no additional funding, limited volunteers & no creative team to implement a full festival. That did not deter Andrew & he moved forward anyway despite public criticism; the city provided a small amount of funding for a mini ice rink & if I recall correctly Santa’s house was moved to the park. I say all this because each member of the “central planning committee” had an idea near & dear to their hearts. But as we all know just because we dream of something wonderful doesn’t mean we have the resources to make something wonderful happen.
Which brings me to a day at the Red Roaster,Tawana Thomas, Andrew & I were at a meeting & as it ended they began discussing how the community could best share the holiday spirit – Tawana spoke of her dream for a spectacular light show all along Vaughn Drive & Andrew added his wishes for a riverfront holiday festival. As I sat listening it became painfully obvious that both cared deeply about the community & neither had the financial resources, creative staff, time & of course volunteers to move forward. The city had given Andrew just enough to rent a tiny tykes train, snow globe & small ice rink. There were “city scape” light displays made by MCS kids but the lights didn’t work & other than that- there was nothing either had access to or help creating. That is how Lanthier Winery came to be involved. We simply offered to help & to gather as many resources as we could to assure that local & nearby family & visitors would have an opportunity to participate in our community’s holiday spirit. We also promised to pay for the creation of light displays as well as props & supplies needed to host a truly “magical” festival. Essentially we removed the financial & staff barriers that the community faced & reached out to listen to our community wishes & dreams.


Added: December 12, 2018
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Tami Jo Hagemier> Tawana Thomas thank you Tawana. I will be sure to pass your kind words to Mulligan McCarthy Susan Stephan. Debbie Lamb Kroger. Gabby Hammersley. Stuart Bramer Cellarmaster Lanthier and John and Lori Schwanekamp Heitz, Renie Pickett Stephens for their help with goodies and treats along with Bill Barnes and the community foundation and Jeffery Burleson and the Founders of the Jefferson County Children’s Fund. Ray Denning and DJ - Donald Mote Judge elect for their generous contributions which helped support free activities for all our families and nearby friends. I can’t forget Shon Warner and Justin Merry for doing all that hard labor that made the event possible. Finally Lanthier Winery wishes to personally thank you and Trev and Andrew for your hard work during the event. There is stil so much to do especially planning for next years Wonderland. We look forward to sponsoring the event and are honored by the many compliments and recognition we have received.

Again thank you for the kind words- so often those who contribute and work the hardest are often overlooked. You are truly a gracious and fair leader.


Added: December 12, 2018
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too many haters where is the love

Added: December 12, 2018
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Why is it some people won’t let others get the applause they deserve. Shame on you Victoria Perry for trying to claim any of last weekends big success. You had nothing of anything to do with the event and any claim to some cockamamie vision you or others had is just BS. Bottom
Line the event was too good to be any idea you or Main Street or the Chamber had. You want credit for something, actually do something. Main Street is worthless and so is your selfish attitude. Thanks to all those hard working people who actually did put on Wonderland for all of us to enjoy.

Admin reply: We need to give the Chamber and the Main Street program the applause they deserve; they took our tax dollars and turned Madison into a ghost town. They are great planers as they have turned Main Street into empty buildings worse than it has been for decades. So much for our ROI!!

I suggest we encourage them to plan their way out of existence!


Added: December 12, 2018
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With the IN Dept. Of Environmental Management out in force today, rumor has it that the emboldened Deputy Do Rite Duquettes file a complaint against another neighbor.

They should be real careful. With that 2nd illegal dwelling on their land, you know the one with the failing septic system that our county continues to simply ignore. The same one our plan commission just voted to "not litigate". Yup, karma's a bi*ch.


Added: December 12, 2018
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TO JB:
No reason to apologize, it was my mistake on the time for the Winter Wonderalnd. We drove down about 3pm and it was all locked-up and we drove down again at 8:30pm and it was all locked-up. Based on those experiences, we assumed that it was just a locked-up display.

Really wish they would open the fence so people could walk through in the evening to appreciate the lights. Maybe lock it back-up at 11pm or so.


Added: December 11, 2018
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We waste many taxpayer dollars on the chamber and the Main Street people.

Can anybody tell me what actually have either done for the citizens of Madison/Jefferson County. What is our ROI and how did Madison survive before them?


Added: December 11, 2018
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Look at the absentee ballot problem in North Carolina. This is why I say the local desperate Dems who go out an aggressively pursue the absentee ballots are opening themselves up for future problems.

Added: December 11, 2018
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Photo op ! If you think the sponsor for Wondeland was just pulling it off for a publicity stunt you aren’t real smart. Go down there and count just the lights and displays and total up the dollars . Those things aren’t cheap by any means. I’ll bet they spent 15 grand in sponsoring all that stuff and that’s not counting all the other things for the festival. I heard there were other sponsors and donors but I also heard one figure of 15 grand got laid down in paying for lights, and all the supplies and labor to do that two day show was another 10. If that’s the case there were cheaper ways to do a publicity stunt. Especially since no one is really claiming the credit except Victoria from Main Street. Anybody know if she even donated a dime?

Added: December 11, 2018
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