Back in 1994 when then-active Akron Children’s Women’s Board member Nancy Heslop heard about another local hospital that was doing a tree lighting ceremony, an idea took root.
“We thought it was a great idea,” she said. “The hospital had just done a major renovation and we had a beautiful atrium lobby to show off that overlooked Perkins Square Park.”
With this year marking the 30th anniversary of the Children’s Tree of Lights celebration, Nancy says she’s not surprised it’s been a mainstay.
“I knew it would probably change and evolve through the years as each chair put her own stamp on it, but I always thought it would remain a hit,” she said.
Nancy remembers showcasing different choirs, singers and bell ringers from local schools.
“We even had a miniature version in the lobby with blue and white lights to mimic the Norway Spruce located in the park,” Nancy explained. “We would let the kids flip the switch on the little tree and when they did the outdoor tree would illuminate as well.”
This year’s chairwoman, Joanne Felden, said each blue and white light represents someone or something to celebrate, honor and remember whether that’s celebrating birthdays or holidays, saying thank you or congratulations, or remembering someone special.
“This holiday tradition spreads joy to Akron Children’s patients, families and staff,” she said. “The lit tree, with the hospital’s Bambino symbol on top, helps to strengthen our faith and hope for better days ahead. The Bambino represents all the children served by our hospital.”
This year’s Bambino is being sponsored by associate Women’s Board member Marcia Holcomb in honor and memory of her late husband Judge John E. Holcomb. The lighting ceremony will be held on Dec. 1 at 5:30 p.m. in the Rehabilitative Services lobby on the hospital’s ground level.
“This year we plan to livestream the tree lighting ceremony on the TVs in patient rooms so patients who can’t leave their rooms are still able to participate,” said Joanne.
Lights can be purchased individually or by the string by clicking here. The deadline to purchase lights is Nov. 17.
Everyone who purchases a light or makes a donation will have their name added to the Children’s Tree Memory book located at Akron Children’s.
“By supporting the Children’s Tree of Lights, you are bringing hope and joy to all, including the children and families who come to Akron Children’s,” said Joanne.
For more information about the Tree of Lights Ceremony, visit https://www.akronchildrens.org/womens_board/Childrens-Tree-of-Lights.html.