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Donnelly friends light up community tree (with video)

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Five of the people who decorated a community tree for Christmas in Donnelly. From left, Paul Kloos, Gail Kloos, Amber Gausman, Kathi Biesterfeld and Walter Biesterfeld. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times2 / 3
The decorated Christmas tree in the park in Donnelly. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times3 / 3

They didn't form a circle around the tall tree and sing to welcome Christmas but these Donnelly residents did bring some Christmas spirit to the community.

Amber Gausman, Paul and Gail Kloos, Sara Stallman and Kathi and Walter Biesterfeld decided the tall evergreen in a city park, across the street from The Place To Be in Donnelly, could use some Christmas lights.

The group spent much of two recent Saturday afternoons stringing lights around the big tree.

"We used 3,300 lights," Gail Kloos said.

The lights are set on a timer and popped on for the first time late at dusk on Saturday, Dec. 1.

Her head up against window pane, Gail Kloos looked out at the tree from inside a window in The Place To Be.

"We lit up Donnelly, " Kloos said.

"I thought it would be like a Hallmark movie," Gausman said. And, "It was literally like a Hallmark movie."

The group of five used trucks equipped with a lift buck and a self-contained lift to string the lights. Riley Biesterfeld and Jeremy Michaelson also helped out. The group overcame a mechanical challenge on Dec. 1 when the bucket truck stopped working. A self-contained lift was brought to the tree but it got stuck before any work started, Kathi Biesterfield said. They freed the lift and started decorating again by mid-afternoon.

The Klooses had decorated a tall evergreen on their property for many years but decided to help with the park tree this year.

Gail Kloos is 62 and said the tree must be at least as old as her. "She's pretty tall," Gail Kloos said of the evergreen.

Not long after tree was lit, it got compliments.

"I think it looks awesome," Peg Rinkenberger said. "It's festive and it makes people feel good."

The group was pleased with its project.

"It's out there dancing in the wind," Walter Biestfeld said.

And they've already started thinking about next year. They have a Christmas tree lighting event. Maybe that could be held on the same day Santa visits Donnelly.

"I think it needs a star," Kathi Biesterfeld said.

"We could wrap some (light strands) around the trunk," Gail Kloos said.

"Well, we will work on that," Walter Biesterfeld said.

For now, Gail Kloos said that "Donnelly will glow from Morris."