The song “Winter Wonderland” was written in the early 1930s by Felix Bernard and Richard Bernhard Smith. Smith, who was from Honesdale, Pennsylvania, wrote the lyrics after seeing a city park covered in freshly fallen snow. Although the song speaks of building snowmen and walking in a winter wonderland, Smith himself was hospitalized at the time, being treated for tuberculosis in a sanatorium in Scranton.
Not only did the song establish itself as a holiday favorite, it also became a phrase we use to describe the beauty of a snow covered landscape or the look of a freshly fallen snowfall. The words ‘winter wonderland’ evoke a sense of magic and sparkle, and something that requires specific elements to come together at the right time. How appropriate then, that this was the term used to describe the Christmas light display at the Outlook & District Regional Park in December.
For us at the newspaper, it took about 30 seconds to know we wanted to participate, and given how quickly the sites were spoken for I would guess the conservations in many businesses and offices went a similar way. It was something to plan for, to organize, and frankly, to get excited about, in a time when so much of what we would have liked to be doing was not possible.
That’s why it felt so good to be down in the park setting up our displays. Several other groups were there the morning we were, and there was such a sense of excitement and anticipation as we all prepared for an event that we truly believed would be received like a gift for the community.
We were fortunate to have the assistance of others as we hauled and lifted pieces, and hung lights and decorations and it was reminiscent of so many large events we’ve been privileged to participate in. There was conversation, brainstorming and…laughter…and it sounded so sweet.
The invitation was extended to return that evening to check everything out in the darkness to ensure the lights were working and the displays looked as we all hoped. The sites sparkled and glowed, and it was truly a winter wonderland.
I have had the chance to talk to a few people who had visited the park in the days leading up to Christmas. Several of them talked about the joy it brought to their family. Some made multiple trips. It was fun, safe and such a bright spot in the Christmas season.
To those who came up with the idea and provided encouragement we say thank you for your vision. To all the businesses and organizations for their tremendous displays we say well done. To all the volunteers for their hours manning the booth and assisting where they could, you have our grateful appreciation. To our mayor, who spent her evenings cheerfully greeting visitors each night we extend our admiration.
The song “Winter Wonderland” came from a time when a songwriter, and his community, was struggling because of tuberculosis. Something so beautiful and long-lasting came out as a result. The Outlook & District Regional Park’s “Winter Wonderland” emerged at a time when our communities are struggling with the realities of a pandemic. Something so beautiful—and might we hope—long-lasting came out as a result. We will see you all at next year’s Winter Wonderland!