What takes three men six hours to set-up, a mechanical lift, is 16 feet tall, has 500+ ornaments, is tied to the top of the ceiling, takes nine volunteers and six staff members to decorate? The Walker Center Christmas Tree!

Wilkes Community College ushered in the holiday season on Tuesday, November 26, by trimming its majestic 16-foot Lakey Ballroom Christmas tree at the John A. Walker Community Center.

It takes about a week for Vince Adams, technical assistant, and custodian at the Walker Center, and his staff to fully set up and trim the massive tree, which is anchored at the ceiling due to its height. They use a man-lift, two 10-foot ladders as well as six-foot ladders to assemble the tree, place lights on it, hang large ornaments from the ceiling around the ballroom and place wreaths on the walls and the front door of the venue. Afterward staff and volunteers gather to embellish the tree with beautiful ornaments of all shapes, sizes, and colors collected over the last 31 years. Each year the tree is decorated a bit differently but always topped with a big bow with long ribbons draping down the sides.

“We know Christmas is right around the corner when the tree goes up. It’s really a wonderful sight to see. We are so grateful to our staff members who work for several days to erect the tree and place the lights, and the volunteers who come in to hang the ornaments and put on the final touches. It’s a collaborative effort and we appreciate everyone who helps,” said Lee K Cornett, senior customer relations specialist.

Cornett stated, “The Lakey Ballroom Christmas tree goes up the Tuesday before Thanksgiving every year, giving everyone in the community as well as college employees and students plenty of time to stop by and enjoy it. We have many civic and corporate groups that specifically book their events during the month of December to take advantage of the Walker Center Christmas decorations. In addition, guests who come to see the season show “John Berry Christmas” on December 12 will enjoy the festive atmosphere.”

The public is invited to visit the Walker Center to see the Christmas tree and snap some family photos in front of it. Visitors are encouraged to call the Walker Center at 336-838-6260 before arriving to ensure that the Lakey Ballroom is not being used for an event.

The volunteer program at Wilkes Community College welcomes new participants. Contact Denna Foster Parsons, volunteer coordinator, at 336-838-6262 or dfparsons290@wilkescc.edu for more information.

Left to right: Walker Center volunteers, June Hege, Addison Neuens (one of our youngest volunteers), Nila Johnson, Aileen Bentley, Linda Farthing, Susan Phillips, and Mona McRae. (Not pictured: Jane Lyons and Beth Wedding).