If you love coming together as a community like it seems people do in July for Leprechaun Days, then you will love what's coming at ya in one week on Saturday, Nov. 18. Every year for the last six years, the RAAC (Rosemount Area Arts Council) has sponsored the Tree Lighting event at the Steeple Center. It's usually a night of apple cider, cookies, camaraderie, music, entertainment, Santa, and of course, the lighting of the tree to kick off the holiday season in Rosemount. One of those seven years, it was held at the Rosemount Community Center because the Steeple Center was under renovation. Well, this year it's once again at the Community Center, but there's an exciting reason for it.
The seventh-annual Tree Lighting at the Community Center is also going to be a send-off to our own hometown Rosemount High School Marching Band as they prepare to leave for New York and the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade days later. This year's event promises to be even more fun than normal.
The night begins outside. In the south side parking lot of the Community Center, you'll find a staging area, bleachers and a huge tarp covering a large section of the pavement with the "Macy's" emblem in its center. The band will perform Thanksgiving morning on essentially the same area of space. At 5:45 p.m., the night begins with a performance by the St. Joseph School Choir. Once they have finished, Santa Claus will arrive with the help of the Rosemount Fire Department. While this is happening, the RHS Marching Band will march up the hill from the school to Highway 3 and then move north on Highway 3 to the Community Center parking lot. The approximate time they leave the school will be 6 p.m. They will be playing the entire time they're marching to their destination. Once they have arrived on the tarp, the program will officially kick in with guests representing the state of Minnesota. And yes, Highway 3 will be temporarily closed for the time it takes the band to arrive.
Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis, state Rep. Anna Wills and state Sen. Greg Clausen will all be in attendance to share their thoughts and best wishes with the band. Mayor Bill Droste will be in attendance along with Mark Toombs representing the business component of Rosemount. I was asked to emcee the night and of course I said "YES!"
The actual tree lighting will occur, and the band will retreat to the school to change out of their uniforms. People will be invited inside the center for cider and a cookie. Santa will be on hand for the little ones while Andre and I will be there selling our three books.
Beginning at 7:30 in the auditorium, the RHS Chamber Choir will perform a brief concert followed by a Rosemount Community Band performance. When the evening is all said and done, it will likely fall between 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. People are being asked to arrive early as there will likely be parking issues and a little walk from where they park may be in some people's future. People are also being asked to bring non-perishable food items for the local food shelf. If the parents alone of this 300-member band are in attendance, we're talking at least 600 people partaking in the evening. With those kinds of numbers, the food shelf could benefit immensely from people's generosity.
I grew up watching "The Andy Griffith Show" weekly. I suppose some might be insulted by this comment, but try not to be. I have always thought of Rosemount, on some levels, as our version of Mayberry. To say everyone knows everyone isn't probably 100 percent accurate, but a whole heckuva lot of people know a whole heckuva lot of people within the community. We still have a Main Street. As I sat at the annual Arts and Crafts fair selling our books last Saturday, I was constantly being met by former students and parents. It so often feels like "old home" week at events like Leprechaun Days or this Arts and Crafts fair or the Tree Lighting. I suspect some day, the charm that is Rosemount will go the way of suburbia and with constant growth will come a sense of disconnection. However, for now, you have all these opportunities to celebrate who we are and to support our kids who, as you can imagine, are excited as heck to be heading to New York. I hope to see you there. It won't be Leprechaun Days' weather, but we're a hearty bunch, aren't we?
Thanksgiving is fast approaching. I, however, am already in Christmas mode. For your sake, however, I am restraining from sharing my excitement, but there's a crack in the dam. Yikes.