A festive holiday season ends 2014: SaddleBrooke Ranch residents can look forward to an exciting 2015 Happy New Year!

Steve Weiss

The holiday season was unofficially kicked off on Friday, November 21, at SaddleBrooke Ranch with a holiday golf cart parade followed by a holiday dance with food, entertainment and the lighting of the holiday wine tree at the Robson event tent.

The wine tree celebration, which includes the parade and dance, is becoming a SaddleBrooke Ranch tradition. In 2012 Brittany Cotard, the daughter of SR residents Rick and Bev Hanson, saw a similar wine tree display at a resort in Vermont and sent a photo to Bev. Bev, who is always looking for ways of getting people together and who enjoys holiday celebrations, thought the wine tree would be a great activity for the Ranch. She next enlisted the services of Rick Hanson and Steve Andrasic to design the structure to securely support the wine bottles. Once the structure was built and thoroughly tested, she then embarked on the task of getting empty wine bottles. Wanting to get the tree ready for the quickly approaching holiday season and realizing that she and her husband would not be able to consume the wine contained in the 250 bottles by themselves, she asked for empty bottle donations from fellow residents. The community quickly rose to the challenge and presented Bev with 700 empty bottles in only one week, 450 more than needed and were recycled. Upon the top of the tree was placed a magnum-sized wine bottle provided by Colleen Carey and Paul Lapotosky and presented to Bev after finishing the contents of the bottle at a special wine sharing party.

At the first wine tree celebration, the tree was paraded through the community with the golf carts trailing behind. But with the fear of some of the bottles dropping to the street, the celebration was changed to a golf cart parade without the tree followed by a street dance and a tree lighting at Bev and Rick Hanson’s house. Now that the community is larger, the event tent was chosen as the location for the dance and tree lighting ceremony. One hundred eighty people attended the dance and the tree lighting. Wonderful dancing music was provided by Rick English with the help of his computer-generated band support. Food was provided by the Shack staff who not only served hot dogs and hamburgers but also served a special Mexican offering called Posole, which was prepared by our Bistro chef Mary LaCompte.

For an added incentive to decorate the carts, prizes were awarded for the best three carts. Judging the decorations was serious business completed by Sherry Weiss, Jon and Karen McIver, Chuck and Karen Baker and Andrea Marchus. The judging was based upon the following criteria: a) Cart coverage by the decorations; b) How clearly the theme of the celebration was shown with the decorations; c) Best use of holiday colors; and d) Originality/creativity. The first prize, a $75 gift card from the Keg, was awarded to Mary Spyros, Hank and Linda Wolowitz, Jan Martin and Dave Farlinger. The second prize, a $50 gift card to the Olive garden, was awarded to Tim and Brenda Pooler. The third prize, a $25 gift card to the Market Place movie theaters, was awarded to Cheri Utsler, Nini Falconer and Doreen Reynolds. Finally, Sandy Seay and Judy Verbecke won gift cards from the Bistro for just being lucky and attending the dance.

The wine tree celebration, parade and dance was a wonderful way to begin the holiday season. If you missed the activities this year, Bev asked that you look forward to next year’s celebration. In the interim, the tree will be on display and lit after 6:00 p.m. at Rick and Bev’s house at the corner of Arroyo Vista and Serval until January 5.