NORTH LIBERTY — Santa has a helper working in North Liberty to single-handedly spread holiday cheer.
Recreation Supervisor Matt Meseck took it upon himself last year to put up a community Christmas tree under the gazebo in Old Town Park for the first time.
This year, he expanded the decorations to include eight custom-made holiday flag poles and garland.
“I always liked Christimas and I thought, ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be fun if we had a community tree?’ ” Meseck said.
After the additions he made this year, he has even bigger plans going forward.
“I’m hoping next year that I can add a sleigh on the (gazebo) roof and put maybe a spotlight on it,” Meseck said. “So I’m trying to find maybe an old beat-up sleigh that I can have some staff here that’s handier with woodworking than I am fix it up and make it look nice.”
Meseck said there were a lot of logistical questions he didn’t realize came with putting up a community Christmas tree — from deciding on real versus fake to finding the right tree size and the right tree stand. To get this year’s 10-foot tree to stay upright, he had to attach the stand to plywood, brace it with sandbags and tie off the tree at the top.
Meseck, who has worked for the city since 2005, picked out and cut down the tree himself at Barnes Tree Farm in Iowa City, which donated the tree to the city.
The donation was especially helpful because Meseck said he hasn’t had much funding for his Christmas projects — just whatever little bit he can squeak out of the budget He added that the type of durable outdoor decorations required can be very expensive.
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“You know, North Liberty’s grown quickly, but we’re still a small town at heart, said Nick Bergus, city communications director. “It’s people like Matt, who take time to put these kind of touches on our community, that remind us of why so many folks love living here and more learn to every year.”
Meseck is responsible for much of the city’s Christmas programming, such as Breakfast with Santa and an Elf on the Shelf Scavenger Hunt.
He said if time allows in the future, the lighting of the tree could turn into a community event — led by a committee of volunteers — featuring live music, sleigh rides or a visit from Santa.
“You know, all the classic Christmas movies, or the ones they show on TV, it feels like there’s some sort of event going on in the city around the holiday that brings everyone out and everyone together,” Meseck said. “I’d love to see us have something like that someday.”
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