The nights are brighter in Virgil, thanks to a tree, a boy, and a giving community.
The enormous evergreen in front of our Town offices was decorated with colourful Christmas lights last week.
“It’s all my fault, actually,” says Phil Leboudec.
Last Christmas, Leboudec’s 10-year-old son asked his dad if there was a Christmas tree in town like in the movies, a tree for everyone to enjoy. The Virgil business owner thought about it and decided it was a good idea — and one he wanted to realize. It was too late to make it happen then, so he got started in plenty of time this year.
“I called up Kevin Turcotte [the manager of parks and recreation at the Town] and asked him how we could make this happen,” says Leboudec. “I always love working with the Town, they’re great on community stuff.”
He also presented the concept to the Virgil Business Association, “and they thought it was a great idea,” he says.
The result was a collaboration between the Town, the VBA, and the community. Erin and James Cadeau, owners of Sweets & Swirls Cafe donated hot chocolate, hot apple cider and coffee to the approximately 80 people who braved the cold on Friday evening to enjoy “a neutral opportunity for everybody to just stop for a few minutes and come together,” says Leboudec.
Members of Gateway Community Church helped to serve the warm beverages and to hand out cookies from Leboudec’s store, Phil’s Valu-mart.
Santa Claus was in attendance, hearing Christmas wishes and providing photo opportunities for young and old. Leboudec’s 99-year-old grandmother even leaned in for a kiss.
Lord mayor Betty Disero and all members of our current council were also there to celebrate on the grounds of the town hall, and Disero made a brief speech before it was announced that Austin Leboudec, now 11, would plug in the lights on the commUNITY tree.
Phil Leboudec compares the people in our community to the lights on the tree. “Each light independently shines bright but when you put them all together it makes something beautiful,” he says. “We all have our different ideas or beliefs, but it’s our combined equal light that becomes beautiful.”