Willow Valley Communities, Celebrations, Decorations & Illuminations: It’s a Team Effort

At Willow Valley Communities, residents experience all aspects of the holiday season – the decorations, the festivities, the glow and the sweet treats – without having to do any of the work!

The expansive courtyard that is surrounded by Willow Valley Communities’ Manor North residences transforms from a favorite place to relax and socialize during the summer into a winter wonderland at holiday time.

Willow Valley Communities, a premier 55-plus community in Lancaster County, has always been known for the extraordinary lifestyle its residents enjoy. Award-winning amenities, hundreds of opportunities for clubs, entertainment, classes and other activities fill residents’ days as they choose. It’s their Life Lived Forward culture: residents enjoy maintenance-free and carefree lifestyles every day – and every season – all year round.

Perhaps it’s during the winter season when this is most apparent. Willow Valley Communities pulls out all the stops to transform its 210 meticulously landscaped acres into a gleaming and festive winter wonderland. Best of all, residents can enjoy it all without lifting a finger, getting on a ladder or fighting with frustrating tangled lights! Many residents agree that as much as they love holiday decorations, they don’t miss the work that was involved. Over the years it became a chore dragging all those boxes from the attic or basement and setting everything up. Climbing up on a ladder to install lights and other decorations could also get dangerous.

Dozens of towering trees decorate the buildings around the Willow Valley Communities campus, bringing holiday enjoyment to residents and their guests. Seen here is a tree in The Clubhouse.

Resident Marlyn Kinnamon, who has lived at Willow Valley Communities for 27 years, says that she does not miss the time-consuming job of decking the halls of her home herself. Marlyn says she appreciates not having to schedule the days to get it all done. “I need that time to work out with my personal trainer at Willow Valley Communities’ Fitness Center!” she chuckles.

Marlyn says she enjoys the decorations she sees at almost every turn. “Everywhere … they’re just fantastic,” she marvels. But, she does admit that she has one favorite place to sit to reflect on the beauty of the season – the Overlook Artisanal Coffeehouse and Wine Bar, which is located on the third floor of a building in the Manor North Community and overlooks the glass atrium that provides a panoramic view of the large outdoor courtyard. 

The view from The Overlook Artisanal Coffeehouse and Wine Bar takes in the lights and water features of the courtyard.

At holiday time, the courtyard is decorated with hundreds of twinkling lights. A gazebo, with its outdoor kitchen as the go-to venue for summer cookouts, is transformed with numerous lights that glisten under a newly fallen snow once winter winds come blowing. Nearby is a small bridge over a pond, the scene of many a photograph, festooned with holiday greenery and even more lights. Sometimes, Marlyn chooses to just enjoy some quiet time to herself. “The lights are most beautiful right after a snowfall,” she describes. “I just love sitting there, relaxing, relishing in the fact that I can simply enjoy the wonder of it all. It’s so freeing to enjoy the beauty of the season without worrying about having to shovel a driveway or a sidewalk!”

The Transformation

Just how does all this glistening wonder happen at Willow Valley Communities? Rather than by Santa’s elves, maintenance managers, Dave Clingan and Tim Ryan, along with their teams, help create the holiday magic. They get straight to work after Thanksgiving by installing thousands of twinkling lights and hundreds of feet of greens, as well as setting up dozens of trees throughout campus.  

Inside the glass-enclosed atrium, trees, poinsettias and other holiday decorations reflect the season.

Grounds Manager Joel Schock contributes significantly to the process and says his team begins planning months in advance, ordering poinsettias and the live trees. When the almost 400 poinsettias are delivered, they are quickly arranged around campus. Some of the live Christmas trees can be as tall as 13 feet. Joel says his team has a lot of experience picking out the perfect tree. “A lot of the trees are viewed on all sides, so we’ve become pretty expert!” he says of selecting perfect specimens. 

Once all the trees are strung with lights, Willow Valley Communities’ resident life coordinators team with groups of residents to take over the decorating process. Resident Life Coordinator Michelle Murch notes that residents enjoy cookies, hot chocolate and holiday sing-alongs as the trees are decorated throughout campus – whether they are actually decorating or simply supervising!

The holidays are synonymous with sweet treats. At Willow Valley Communities, residents can call upon Kristin Yeager of Corner Sweets Bakery for their dessert and entertaining needs.

The winter holiday season is not only beautiful at Willow Valley Communities, but it is also delicious! Bakery chef, Kristin Yeager, of the Corner Sweets Bakery says, “I thoroughly enjoy creating new and delectable treats themed both in flavor and decoration to each holiday. The residents are a joy to bake and create for, and they give me a lot of creative freedom. And, afterwards, of course, I always look forward to hearing how they tasted!”

For more information, visit willowvalleycommunities.org. 

Have You Heard!
Lancaster County was named the “Best Place to Retire” in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report’s latest survey. The rankings were announced in early November and are based on factors such as housing costs, tax rates, healthcare and happiness. It’s also notable that for the first time, Pennsylvania, with five metro areas ranking in the Top 10, outperformed the perennial winner, Florida. For details, visit usnews.com. 

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