Celebrating the holiday season in many ways

I am having quite the festive holiday season!

I had the opportunity to attend another Christmas party last week. Except for the fact that both events featured some magical entertainment, the gathering was quite different from the Smith Township Volunteer Fire Department affair, but it was just as much fun.

The West Virginia Event Pros held a holiday get-together at the office of Home Realty on Chapline Street in Wheeling. The organization is a relatively new group of small businesses owners and operators who specialize in helping the rest of us create perfect events of our own. Among the members are my husband, Magician Michael Strough, and several other local entrepreneurs, including coffee shop and cookie company owners, disc jockeys, photographers, makeup artists, balloon artists, a clown and several others.

The diverse members of this group certainly know how to plan a lovely evening. The dinner spread they collaborated on featured a variety of delicious dips, a delightful potato casserole, a magnificent variety of cookies, salads, breads and beverages. But they didn’t let all of that holiday fare distract them completely from the business at hand. After eating, they took time to discuss their plans for the year ahead before being treated to a brief magic show.

I would be remiss in describing the party if I didn’t take a moment to paint a picture of the setting. I mentioned that it was held in a real estate office, but that doesn’t begin to do the building justice. It is actually a fantastic old home that dates to the 1890s.

Its brick walls give a sturdy impression from the exterior, but the interior is far more impressive. The three-story structure features essentially all of the original, ornate woodwork, including two staircases and multiple built-in shelving areas with delicate glass doors. High ceilings, tall doors and rooms that once functioned as servants’ quarters immediately give visitors the feeling that they have stepped back in time.

Even while they are having fun and celebrating the season, members of this group are working together to support and promote one another. They are developing a website and a social media presence, and they are exploring advertising options and making arrangements to host at least one special event as spring approaches.

It seems to me that they have solid strategies in mind. They’ve also developed positive, cooperative working relationships that almost certainly will benefit them all. I look forward to seeing their successes unfold and watching their membership grow.

I truly enjoyed the food, the festivities and the conversation with the WV Event Pros on Tuesday evening, and I thank them for inviting me to their event.

Meanwhile, back in Belmont, I also attended the second annual village tree-lighting on Dec. 9.

That Saturday evening was bitterly cold and windy. But that didn’t stop a fairly large number of residents from turning out for the event. I will admit the crowd was not as large as the one for the first-ever tree-lighting last year, when about half of the community attended. This year, I would estimate that a little more than 100 people took part,

Standing there at the site of the old bridge that used to pass over railroad tracks that lay far below, friends and neighbors gathered and chatted, taking advantage of the chance to catch up with one another despite the weather. Village officials and council members handed out treat bags that included candy and snacks an small toys and coloring books for children. Mayor Stan Sobel spoke about the cooperative efforts that made the event possible.

The Union Local High School Choir, directed by my brother Larry Compston, made its second appearance at the event, providing special music. Officials handed out and attempted to light small candles, but the wind would not allow that. So, residents simply sang some carols in the cold as the switch was flipped to light the tree.

Although this year’s event was somewhat smaller than last year’s, I believe it was just as important to the community. Other festivities that day included Breakfast with Santa, which was enjoyed by many local families. That morning meal and visits and photos with Santa were all provided free of charge.

Thanks to Sobel, the council members and all the volunteers who made these activities possible. I hope that you — and people like you in many of our local communities — keep it up.