Fulton brings new meaning to annual Festival of Lights

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FULTON – In an attempt to raise more money for the Callaway County Salvation Army, the group and Fulton Parks and Recreation team thought of an idea that gave an extra meaning to the city’s annual Festival of Lights.

Callaway County Salvation Army chairman Glenda Fitch said the two groups created a new feature, the Field of Joy. It gives local businesses, families, and organizations the opportunity to set-up their own lighted Christmas tree for $25.

30 trees were sponsored and decorated, and each with a special meaning.

“There’s just a lot of thought that went into some of these trees,” Fitch said. “It’s more than just about putting up a tree and decorating it. It’s about what’s behind the thought.”

Some local businesses sponsored and decorated trees to match their services, and a local bank decorated theirs with dollar bills. But there were three trees decorated to remember loved ones, including Cassie Santhuff. Her six-year-old son Sam lost his battle to cancer in September 2014.

"It’s a tree of gold because gold is representative of childhood cancer,” Santhuff said.

His tree is large and decorated with ribbons, all which have different names on them.

“They represent our heroes in the fight,” Santhuff said. “These are kids that are fighting cancer locally and then some nationally too.”

“Anthony Townsend was four years old. He got parainfluenza and went into pneumonia and things just went downhill from there,” Fitch said. “When that happened, we were all just heartbroken. And that tree is in memory of Anthony and his older sister helped put it up.”

Townsend's tree was decorated with bows, Mickey Mouse, and a Spider-Man ornament with his name on it.

Fulton resident, Ann Erbchloe, decorated a Christmas tree to remember her husband and daughter who both lost their battles to cancer.

“Well you notice that the lights on it are all white and pink, and so are the ornaments,” Erbchloe said. “In the last couple of years, we lost my husband to lung cancer and my oldest daughter to breast cancer. So we wanted to do it in loving memory of them with a tree here because both of them loved Christmas."

The trees are in Veterans Park in Fulton for anyone to view through New Year’s Day.