WARSAW — With the recent delivery of massive trees — the sturdy kind that don’t mind the snow — to businesses and organizations across Wyoming County, it’s certainly beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
But perhaps nowhere so much as the Wyoming County Community Health System’s Skilled Nursing Facility, where, on Tuesday, the distinctive clop of a horse’s hooves cut through the brisk December air and warned residents of an exciting new addition to their holiday repertoire — the WCCHS annual outdoor Christmas tree.
“Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,” rang through the air — each careful clop of hooves on pavement punctuating the cheery rendition of the song residents had taken up as they anxiously awaited the tree’s arrival.
With the afternoon sun shining bright on the small crowd, bundled in blankets, scarves and hats to brave the cold, a horse-drawn buggy rounded the corner. Horse and tree now in sight, the residents went wild. Some had invited their family members to witness the delivery, and as they listened for the jingle of the horse’s holiday bells, all remained adamant that the cold was no bother — they wanted to remain outside to see the tree — and horse, of course — up close and personal.
“This is so much fun for the residents — it’s a great way to bring everyone together as a community,” said Activity Director Sue Winiecki of the tree delivery. Behind her, a crowd of men had gathered to unload the 10-foot blue spruce from Luczak’s Tree Farm. “We’re always trying to do fun things for our residents — this horse and buggy arrival will be the first annual event,”
As men hoisted the tree into a standing position, cutting the strings that bound its branches tight together, residents unwilling to endure the harsh December cold watched from nearby windows, cups of punch and egg nog in hand. They’d earlier taken pictures with a jolly old man in a red suit, who bellowed “Merry Christmas!” and gave his name only as ‘Santa,’ and couldn’t pass up the frosted, sprinkled sugar cookies offered up by WCCHS staff.
“I think the residents loved it, they all looked forward to it,” Mary Fronczak, the activity leader who’s known, on occasion, to don a snowman suit during winter festivities, said as residents sipped punch and munched their holiday treats. “They all were really excited about the horse. It was just a really fun event and something new!”
And with that, the residents finally admitted their defeat — retreating to the warmth of the facility after they’d given the horse generous pats and strokes on the muzzle.
He clip-clopped merrily away, residents smiling broadly as they gazed at him, and at the new Christmas tree standing before them.
They were glad to see it, they said — even though one did yell “Bah humbug!” when asked to smile for the camera.