Marietta Main Street’s Holiday Tree Walk Returns to Muskingum Park

Downtown Marietta has always been an epicenter of holiday cheer in the Mid-Ohio Valley, but in recent years, the Marietta Main Street Hometown Holidays Committee has gone above and beyond to make downtown merry and bright for residents and visitors alike. Despite the challenges of a global pandemic, this year is no exception. The Holiday Tree Walk, installed in East Muskingum Park surrounding the gazebo, has added extra cheer to this year’s festivities.

“We wanted to provide a passive, ongoing holiday attraction in Marietta that was different from a drive-through lighted experience,” said Cristie Thomas, Marietta Main Street Executive Director. “Our volunteers have long-adored the Gallipolis in Lights holiday attraction and thought tipping our hat to that, with our own spin on it here in Marietta, would be the perfect solution.”

“We cherish opportunities to invite the Marietta community to contribute to what we provide downtown, whether through decorations or events,” Thomas said. “The Tree Walk is a beautiful display, thanks to those who decorate their trees with care. This year especially, with restrictions due to COVID-19 and events canceled, we’re especially proud to provide this experience for residents and tourists to enjoy; it’s distanced, outdoors, and available 24/7.”

This is the second the Holiday Tree Walk has been installed in downtown Marietta. Thomas said they learned a lot from last year, including just how much the community enjoys this addition to the holiday line-up. “From daily visitors in Muskingum Park to photos on social media and the pride local businesses, organizations, and families poured into each beautifully-decorated tree, it was clear to our volunteers that their hard work paid off in hosting this experience.”

“The Tree Walk was so well loved last year, we decided to make it a yearly tradition,” said Debbie Cline, chair of the Hometown Holidays Committee and a member of the Marietta Main Street Board of Directors. “We’d love to see the walk expand in the future.”

The MOV’n Dragons participated for the first time this year. Coach Jessica Meibers said the organization saw this as the perfect opportunity to do something together as a group. “This year has brought a lot of challenges and one of those was us not being able to be in our brand new boat on the river,” she said. “Being apart of the MOV’n Dragons is more than just working out together. We are a community. We are a sisterhood. So anytime we have the opportunity to get together, we love it. We also care a lot about our community and showing our love for this beautiful place we live!”

Meibers said the Dragons loved the idea of the Holiday Tree Walk as a wonderful way to spread Christmas cheer to Marietta. The group even created a hashtag (#movndragonscheer) they are encouraging their members to use when they go hang their ornaments so they can take a selfie and share with their fellow Dragons.

Another first time participant was the O’Neill Senior Center in Marietta. Erin O’Neill, the Senior Center’s Development Coordinator, said she wanted O’Neill to participate as a way to give back to the community that gives so much to them.

The whole project provided a way for our staff and supporters to get involved and our clients to be creative.

Erin O’Neill, Development Coordinator at the O’Neill Senior Center

“What could be better than to provide a beautiful tree for all to enjoy?” she said. “We raised money to adopt the tree from Main Street through the purchase of commemorative ornaments. We had many people buy them in honor or memory of a loved one and I made each of those ornaments special.”

The donations received were enough to purchase the tree and the ornaments, in the center’s teal and silver colors. “Other ornaments on our tree were made by seniors in our Adult Day Care Center,” said O’Neill. “So the whole project provided a way for our staff and supporters to get involved and our clients to be creative. I am very proud of our tree and the O’Neill Center is very happy to be part of this community event this year!”

In total, 51 trees were adopted and decorated this year by local businesses, area nonprofits, and families, each with their own story. “Some of the stories behind the trees are particularly touching,” said Thomas. “Some are adopted In Memory Of loved ones, some are giving trees adorned with hats and mittens for those in need to take, and some invite Tree Walk viewers into the story of the tree through tags, coupons, and more.”

For Thomas, the trees that have a personal touch, with ornaments dedicated to individuals and those who give back to the town, are her favorite. “I absolutely love that Main Street can provide a platform to celebrate our community and the Tree Walk is just one example of how we do that.”

Tim Glover, Board President for Marietta Main Street, said he was pleased with this year’s display. “The Hometown Holiday’s committee did an outstanding job organizing our largest Tree Walk yet. With the current restrictions on gatherings, it is a great way for people to share what the Christmas spirit means to them,” he said.

Lindsay Frame and Linda Stewart decorating the Julie Joy Memorial Tree

Glover shared that he has a personal attachment to the tree decorated in loving memory of Julie Joy. “She was a personal friend and I think trees like this one truly capture Christmas spirit and how important it is to cherish our friends and family.”

The Holiday Tree Walk is coordinated by Marietta Main Street’s Hometown Holidays Committee, comprised of dedicated volunteers like Debbie Cline, Becky Pritchett, Tim Bonnette, Denyse Fordham, Sheila Loveitt, and Patsy and Rob Dearing. “We also owe gratitude to Daryl Jones of Marietta Electrical JATC who ensures all Tree Walk trees light up, to Marietta Morning Rotary for decorating the gazebo and adding decorations to the park, and to Greenleaf Landscapes for transporting and installing the trees for decoration,” said Thomas.

The Tree Walk will be on display throughout the month of December. Visitors can stop by day or night to admire each tree decorated with love and care.