Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
FAIRFIELD - The cold, wind and rain were no match for the hundreds of visitors who flocked to the square in Fairfield on Friday, Nov. 29, for the annual lighting ceremony.
Traditional Christmas carols were sung by the Fairfield High School Choir as visitors flocked to the gazebo for the annual tradition. Darien Sloat, Chief Executive Officer of the Fairfield Are Chamber of Commerce, introduced the guest of honor, Rose McMahon, who was in charge of plugging in the lights.
Each year a different citizen or group of citizens who shows Christmas spirit and a giving attitude toward the community are chosen to turn on the lights. Sloat said McMahon was chosen because of her work with The Lord's Cupboard, the county's food pantry.
Sloat said the organization was started in December 1982 by Tom Smith and Norma Bogner. During the first year, the pair wanted to do something extra special for Christmas but did not have a budget or extra time to fulfill the idea.
Instead, they were able to team up with a local organization. He said in 2005 the McMahon family stepped up to revamp the project and continue to provide the baskets for family. Approximately 500 families are helped every year by the donation of the baskets, he said.
At exactly 6 p.m., the lights were turned on and the town was illuminated for the holidays. Families walked off to stand in line to meet Santa at his workshop, but McMahon stayed huddled under an umbrella and greeted people with a smile.
She said after moving to town in 1976 she used to come to the lighting ceremonies often but not so much anymore. However, this year she was glad to be there and got quite the shock when her name was announced, she said.
'It's a big surprise,” she said with a laugh.