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When Trimble County High School guidance counselor Brigette Kunselman saw a story in The Banner that said Bedford may not host its annual Christmas event this year, she had an idea.
With permission from Principal Stirling “Buddy” Sampson, she asked the senior class the following day if anyone would be interested in pitching in to help save “Light Up Bedford.”
“Everyone was on board immediately,” she said Friday on Courthouse Square, as she watched the seniors raking leaves, trimming bushes and putting up Christmas lights. “Even the kids you wouldn’t expect” were eager to help.
Only a handful of seniors who had already signed up for a field trip that day were missing. Otherwise, it was 100 percent participation, Kunselmen said.
Bedford City Commissioners last month considered not holding the event this year because of the annual cost to replace lights and the extra time assistant city clerk Rita Davis and others spent cleaning, putting up lights and decorating the square.
Davis, who helped supervise the seniors, was amazed at how hard the seniors worked to get everything done. Starting around 10 a.m., they were done with almost everything by about noon.
“They’re doing a wonderful job, really,” Davis said. “I’m so proud of them.”
Of course the warm, sunny Indian Summer weather didn’t hurt – nor did the prospect of getting out of school part of the day, some of the seniors admitted.
Staff members even rolled up their sleeves, including Assistant Principal Kerrie Stewart. Sampson also stopped by, and said he was impressed by the students’ hard work.
On Tuesday, Sampson said the seniors weren’t looking for special attention and didn’t see the work as being “for the community.” Rather, he said, they were simply members of the community “just doing what needed to be done. ... I figure that of we can send them out into the real world with that mentality, we have served them well as educators. No amount of knowledge can replace responsibility or ownership. I’m proud of them.”
David Eisenmenger, chaplain at Signature, said his crew – which finished putting the finishing touches on the square, such as putting up the rest of the net lighting and installing new flood-light bulbs – also was motivated by the same sense of community.
“We are very happy to serve in the community,” he said, adding that the community “owes a debt of gratitude to Rita Davis and Joyce [Teague] and city employees who work very hard each year to make this happen.”
Eisenmenger said everyone on the nursing home staff wanted to volunteer. “We got a really big response,” he said, but some who wanted to come couldn’t because they were scheduled to work. He said about 12 volunteers – including employees and their family members – were on hand on the cold Monday morning.
He said they, too, were impressed with what the seniors were able to accomplish Friday. “We really appreciate what they did.”
Signature also covered the costs of buying new lighting to replace what couldn’t be used from last year. He said about $800 was spent to buy 75 sets of net lights and about 25 new bulbs for the floodlights.
Schedule of ‘Light Up’ events
“Light Up Bedford” will begin at noon Dec. 4 with a holiday bazaar in the conference room at Morgan Community Center. At 6 p.m., Dustin Temple will perform while the Bedford Rotary’s chili supper gets under way.
At the Courthouse Square, ceremonies begin at 6:30 with music by the Trimble County Middle School choir, a reading of The Christmas Story and the official lighting of the square.
At 7 p.m., The Bedford Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department will lead a parade back to the community center, where children can visit with Santa. Carriage rides also will begin at that time.
At 7:15, the TCMS choir will perform more songs, followed by a performance by the TCMS band at 7:35 p.m.