By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
Occupants at Yukon’s largest senior retirement community typically participate in the annual Chill Your Cheeks Run and Jingle Walk to kick off the City of Yukon’s Christmas In the Park.
But Spanish Cove Retirement Village residents were unable to take part last month due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
Some 90 Cove residents and staff instead joined in a one-mile fun walk, their inaugural “Frosty Run”, on Dec. 8 at the Cove campus, 11 Palm. A chili dinner followed.
The festivities kicked off with the offering of a large gift from Spanish Cove to Yukon Friends of the Park, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
Spanish Cove marketing director Jill Huff presented the $2,000 donation to Yukon Parks Maintenance Superintendent Jason Worden as a “thank-you” for City personnel helping get the Cove’s Christmas lights working again.
“Our residents decorate our campus every year at Christmastime,” Huff shared. “The residents have a decorating contest and we (staff) decorate as well to spread some Christmas cheer. When we started decorating this year, some of the lights were out. Those displays are no longer available, so we contacted Jason and he was amazing – so wonderful.”
City of Yukon Parks Maintenance employees – on their own time – volunteered to repair and rework the Christmas lights for a nativity scene at Spanish Cove’s “Central Park”.
“We appreciate them making it possible because if they had not fixed our lights, they would not have looked as great,” Huff said. “We thought it was so nice, we made a donation.”
Many Spanish Cove residents gave money about a decade ago to create their beautiful Central Park, situated in the middle of the campus, which features a fire pit and hosts concerts.
The Cove has about 300 residents and 175 staff members, so Huff was well pleased with the turnout for the recent Frosty Run.
“We’ll probably have another one next year because it was so great,” she said. “The residents and the staff really enjoyed it! The weather was perfect, and everybody got to see all the Christmas decorations all over the buildings, at Central Park and even the cottages.”
Spanish Cove representatives knew where to turn for help restoring the Central Park Christmas display.
The Yukon Parks Maintenance crews are well-versed in wiring and placing outdoor lights since they prepare Yukon’s annual “Christmas In the Park” displays – which features about 5 million individual lights.
Scott and Worden have discussed what park improvements should be made with the $2,000 given to Yukon Friends of the Park.
“We’re going to buy some chain – like we have in City Park – to place between the white poles at Chisholm Trail Park,” Scott said. “That will stop people from driving through between the poles and going ‘cross country’, which can cause damage.
“We want to keep the park nice and protect our Christmas lights.”
Friends of the Park makes improvements and enhancements to the City of Yukon’s park system, to beautify and better the parks with funding for special projects not covered by the general fund budget.
As Spanish Cove’s marketing director and the Yukon Chamber of Commerce president, Huff helps many people who are moving to Yukon.
“I tell people that the City of Yukon’s Parks and Recreation program is pretty amazing,” she said. “Hundreds of thousands of people come to look at the (Christmas In the Park) lights; that’s an attraction in itself.”
Yukon Parks & Recreation is “such a huge asset” to Yukon and its businesses, Huff added.
The request for the City of Yukon’s help overhauling the Central Park Christmas lights originated with Spanish Cove resident Dale Wilhite, who donates his time to prepare income taxes for seniors at the Dale Robertson Center.
“Dale originally bought the lights, but they were old and had stopped working,” Scott explained.
Yukon’s longtime Parks & Rec director credited Worden and his crew for their efforts – not just with this Spanish Cove light project but with the massive task of coordinating Christmas In the Park.
“Jason does a fantastic job, really,” Scott noted. “Everybody likes him, and he does what he says he’ll do. He is very professional. I can’t say enough nice things about him.”