SYRACUSE — The Wawasee Area Conservation Foundation held its third annual Christmas tree lighting party at the Ruddell Pavilion, located on the Levinson and LaBrosse Lakes and Wetlands Educational Center property, 11586 N. SR 13, Friday, Dec. 1.
Roughly 50 board members, volunteers, well-wishers and others walked up the candlelit path to celebrate the holiday season with chili, chicken noodle soup, mulled cider, desserts and a long list of other carry-in dishes and refreshments following the lighting of a Christmas tree just outside the pavilion.
David Brandes, a former WACF board chairman, led the ceremony and Heather Harwood, executive director, plugged in the lights, officially kicking off the festivities.
According to Brandes, the event was inspired by a watercolor painting of the Ruddell Pavilion by his wife, Susan Brandes, which hangs inside the education center. The artist took what David called “artistic license” by depicting the building with Christmas lights, despite the fact none had actually been hung.
In a case of “life imitating art,” said Brandes, Donn Baird, WACF board treasurer, and his wife Linda Baird donated the lights, which were installed by Brandes and Jeff Herdrich, WACF land management officer.
Director Harwood, who after lighting the tree helped serve guests at the buffet table, sees the event as a “way of thanking our friends, people who embrace our mission … to protect the water quality in the Wawasee Watershed and preserve the natural habitat.”