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Prepping for holiday cheer

NILES — Maryland resident Meghann Wilson, who grew up in Leavittsburg, said she never had been inside the McKinley Memorial Museum.

That changed during her visit this week with her parents when she brought her husband and children to the memorial.

“They liked the holiday displays,” said Wilson, whose parents, Chuck and Lydia Burger of Niles, suggested they visit the museum.

“I wanted my children to see some of the local attractions. It’s like living in New York City and not seeing the Statue of Liberty,” Lydia Burger said.

Her son, Grant Burger of Boston, and his girlfriend Paige Walker, also were visiting.

The families were surprised as many of the more than 30 decorated holiday trees are already on display for the third annual Festival of Trees that begins Wednesday and runs through New Year’s Day.

Ami Lemaster, director of the museum, said various organizations helped set up and decorate the trees.

“I actually had people call me in September to make sure they could get a tree to decorate this year,” Lemaster said.

She said the display is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays until Jan. 1. A special celebration will take place 1 to 6 p.m. Dec. 5 with a performance by Belles and Beauxs from Niles McKinley High School from 1 to 2 p.m. and a visit from Santa Claus from 2 to 5 p.m. On Dec. 17, the Grinch will visit from 6 to 8 p.m.

“We wanted to do this to give the community a place to go for the holidays. They can relax and be happy and can feel the Christmas spirit,” Lemaster said.

“We have so many groups from Girl Scouts to floral shops and historical societies who all stepped up to decorate trees. They all really had so much fun decorating, bringing laughter and a spirit of Christmas.”

Lemaster said each group brought its own tree, picked a theme and decorated.

“We even have a mannequin tree with the tree wrapped around like a skirt,” Lemaster said.

Esther Gartland of the GFWC Ohio Junior Cyberlinks group had a large tree on the museum stage to decorate with the theme “Let Music Fill the Air.” She said the tree was decorated with musical notes and musical paper.

Members of the McKinley Memorial Garden Group decorated the exterior of the museum with lights and holiday ornaments.

Nancy Malone of Niles said they were getting the greens and holiday bows ready to put out in the museum courtyards and around the lights out front. The group also decorated around the statue of President William McKinley.

Shirley Benedict of Niles said the group likes to keep the garden area at the museum looking nice, especially at the holidays.

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