On December 9, Depot Park was filled with the magical sights and sounds of the holiday season during the 2nd Annual Clarkston Christmas Market. I’d like to thank the City of the Village of Clarkston and the whole Clarkston community for making this event possible. Although the supporters of this event are many, I would like to attempt to individually thank most of those that enhanced the market this year.
First, thank you to Clarkston’s City Council, who supported my vision for this market last year and again this year, assisting in making it a reality. Without their support the family focused, festive market would have remained just an idea. Thank you to the DPW who worked tirelessly preparing the park in the days leading up to the event by hanging lights, putting up tents, wrapping the gazebo, putting up banners and so much more. Thank you, Jimi and Carson, for keeping your phones handy throughout the event and responding to every situation at a moment’s notice. To Johnathon Smith, Karen Delorge, Evelyn Bihl and Greg Coté, thank you for brainstorming solutions with me and for always greeting me with a smile, even on busy, difficult days. To Brenda Warden, my dear friend, who designed the banners and yard signs, I extend an immeasurable amount of gratitude. Leading up to the event Tanya Carson from the Clarkston Living Magazine and Emily Caswell from the Clarkston News provided an array of advertisements to spread the word of the event and Matt Mackinder, Clarkston News, wrote a special article depicting the market in the nicest way. Thank you for that media support, it allowed so many families to place the market on their calendars.
I would be remiss if I did not thank the community that was instrumental in providing so much for the market. All the free activities, food and beverages were a result of an outpouring of donations from our Clarkston community. Joe O’Hearne, from Mel’s Grille, and his staff served close to 900 free cups of hot chocolate to families, saying that he wanted to give back to the community that kept Mel’s Grille going during the difficult times of COVID with all the carry-out business. Marla Sandford of Yellow Dog Market Place held three different raffles throughout 2023 and sponsored Santa’s “Letter Writing” tent, in an expression of gratitude toward the community patrons that frequent her store. The Clarkston Post Office’s own postal worker and her helpers helped the children to write those letters and get them into the mailbox. Marla also teamed up with Heather Rogers of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Rogers Chiropractic Center, Carnwath Excavating Co. and The Center for Dental Implants, Oral & Facial Surgeons of Michigan to provide free pony rides for the hundreds of children that were there that night. The Optimist Club provided 500 candy canes for Santa to give to each child. The Clarkston Community Historical Society provided 500 s’more packets for families to make s’mores over the fire pit. More than 400 were used and the remaining packets were donated to the Clarkston United Methodist Church’s food bank. The Independence Fire Department watched over the fire, providing a fireman at the fire pit throughout the entire evening. They also brought one of their fire trucks, providing light for the market as well as allowing kids to explore the rig both inside and out.
Sam Moracco, of MLC Building, lent the market his historical sleigh providing many photo opportunities as well as a collection spot for Santa’s letters. Sam also set up the holiday music that provided Christmas cheer to the park. Gary Kaul took to the park as O’laf entertaining children and adults the same. Thank you to the Clarkston United Methodist Church for providing the reindeer antler game and the prizes that came with it. Children took home a stocking that night simply for playing that game. Of course, a big thank you is reserved for the vendors and food trucks that provided an opportunity for some Christmas shopping and delicious nourishment while shopping and enjoying the many sights, sounds and activities.
My thank you list would not be complete without thanking Santa himself for making the long trip to our market to talk to the children and provide photo opportunities. We all know how busy this time of year can be for him and to have Santa right in our hometown, well, that is certainly something to be thankful for. I am so grateful for Amy Peterson from Amy Peterson Photography for capturing all the extraordinary “Santa” moments on film. Her decorated Gazebo made for a beautiful backdrop for those special photos.
Lastly, thank you to Amy Wilson, my partner in this endeavor. This event would never have been accomplished without her. Her endless work on this project ended in a market that so many were able to enjoy. Thank you as well to my family and friends who put up with my endless chatter about this event and provided unwavering support. To the families that came that night we pray it was everything that you hoped it would be.
They say it takes a village….. in this case it took a village, a city, and an entire community. It was a beautiful night in our little town. For the 2nd year in a row, it looked like something scripted out of a Hallmark movie. How lucky are we to live in such a place?
Happy Holidays, Clarkston!