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Annual Winterfest: A New Celebration Of Timeless Ideals

What do Dr. Maulana Karenga, Anna Jarvis, and Garden City’s own Robert Alvey have in common? They each founded a holiday to celebrate the human ideals we cherish. Dr. Karenga founded Kwanzaa as a celebration of African American family, culture and community. Anna Jarvis founded Mother’s Day to extol the virtues of motherhood. Rob Alvey founded the Garden City Bird Sanctuary/Tanners Pond Nature Preserve and in so doing inspired the board of directors to found Winterfest in January 2009. Our holiday is a celebration of the difference that each of us can make for this world to become a better place.

Rob’s selfless dedication to the environment and helping others is embodied in him and our volunteers/supporters with some of the best traits humanity has to offer, such as environmental stewardship, volunteerism, and hope for a better tomorrow because of the efforts that people of good will do for each other today. It is, therefore, my honor to invite all who wish to be there to the 5th Annual Winterfest. See the GCBS’s own holiday that celebrates these very same characteristics and honors our supporters as “people of good will” (a phrase you will hear quite a lot at our ceremonies)! Hence, our festivities are held the second Saturday of January each year. This year they will be held on January 12.

Winterfest begins at 4 p.m. as twilight approaches. As our supporters file in, there is warm cocoa to drink as we fill the birdfeeders and put up some decorations for our fine-feathered friends. About 4:30 p.m., we have a poem recitation around our newly planted trees. Then we culminate the event with our Candlelighting Ceremony at which we have the Great Telling. Just as some Native Americans have a ceremony that describes the history of their tribe, the directors tell the story of the GCBS and Winterfest itself. Each director tells a part of the story. During the ceremony we will publicly honor two of our outstanding helpers and then remember with gratitude both the people who dedicated trees in 2012 for someone special (either in honor or in memoriam) and those people for whom they were planted.

At Winterfest we also remember the past year’s accomplishments and dream of the ones to come in 2013. Special thanks to God this year for sparing insurmountable destruction by hurricane Sandy to our sanctuary and our supporters. We shall rebuild and reopen, stronger both as an organization and as individuals for the adversity endured. We celebrate Winterfest in the middle of the gloomiest time of the year when the days are short, the nights are bitter cold, and nature sleeps in the seeming throes of death. Why? Because our message of hope is “All Winters Must Come To An End.” Not only will the seasonal winter pass to a new springtime of life, but the various “winters” in our lives will also pass. The winter of health problems, financial worries, relationship problems, work related problems—all these “winters” will eventually end. The great religions of the world tell us that the winter of death itself is not the end of us, but a passing into a new life. As long as we remain people of good will, things will work out. Rob Alvey proved that with the GCBS; who thought that one man could establish and maintain so much good for so many people over many years?  

Winterfest takes place at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 12 at the front gate of the GCBS opposite 181 Tanners Pond Rd., regardless of the weather. Please take note that we will have a tent erected to spare us from bitter cold winds, so don’t hesitate to come out. The event is free and open to the general public. Hope to see you there.