The Christmas Spirit was as thick as fruit cake at Highland Manor on July 31, and the summer weather even cooperated with the temperature plummeting into the high 80s.
It was the sixth annual Christmas in July celebration at the skilled nursing and rehabilitation center, sponsored by Colonial Property Management, , 736 W. Pioneer Blvd., with the cooperation of the Mesquite Chamber of Commerce, 12 W. Mesquite Blvd., St. 107.
Noel Smith of Colonial Property Management said this is the sixth year the company has sponsored the mid-year, holiday celebration.
“It takes a long time to prepare,” she told the MLN. In order to be ready by July, the volunteers at the company must begin soliciting and collecting donations as early as March.
“The chamber helps with getting the donations,” she said. Then the gifts must be purchased, wrapped and labeled to go to the correct resident. While the staff at Highland Manor, located at 272 Pioneer Blvd., in Mesquite spends the week before decorating the facility, the workers at the property management company are busy wrapping the gifts, she added.
The residents look forward to the celebration with almost the anticipation of the December holiday, Highland Manor Administrator James Sullivan said. The afternoon starts with punch and cookies, baked by members of the Valley Presbyterian Church, 350 Falcon Ridge Parkway, St. 702.
Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived at 2 p.m. sharp and marched to the three dining rooms where the parties were held, being heralded by Dennis Hangey, blowing Christmas carols on the bag pipes along the way.
Carols also were sung by The Messengers with the residents joining in. According to Dennis Lynch, a member of the quartet, the group started singing with the United Methodist Church, but now performs at various churches and other occasions around town. Lynch is joined by Bill Moore, Marni Brown and her husband Mel Brown in the acappella singing.
Many of the residents have attended all six of the Highland Manor’s Christmas in July events.
Barb Symons is one. She put on her special Christmas in July shirt, embroidered with cavorting snowmen. “I only wear it once a year,” she said.
Last year, she received a variety of personal gifts and seven legal pads.
Legal pads may not sound like an appropriate Christmas present, Symons explained that she writes a column about Manor activities for the Desert Valley Times. And she writes those columns in long hand on legal pads. She’s been writing for the newspaper since 2003.
Ed Schultz also has attended each of the off-season Christmas parties.
“They’re great,” he said.
Schultz was wounded during World War II and received the Purple Heart. “I don’t look that old,” the naval veteran said. “But I’m 87.”
The mid-year gift-giving helps many of the seniors living in the manor with their tight budgets. Personal items, such as toiletries, combs, brushes, books… just about any useful items are collected as a way for the community to share with the residents, many of whom do not have families living nearby, in a spirit usually reserved for the December holiday season.
For more information about the Highland Manor Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, call Sullivan (702) 346-7666 or e-mail him at email@example.com.