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Diamond decorating gets underway in Ligonier

| Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, 10:50 p.m.
Eric Schmadel | For the Ligonier Echo
Holly Mowrey, executive director of the Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce, untangles strings of lights during the Diamond decorating event Saturday. Volunteers helped place lights on trees, lampposts and bandstand in preparation for Santa's arrival and Diamond lighting event 6:30 p.m. Nov. 29. Volunteers are needed 9 a.m. Saturday to place the holiday displays around the Diamond and complete the decorating project.
Eric Schmadel | For the Ligonier Echo
Robert McCoy of Ligonier places the new lighted garland and bows on the lampposts.
Eric Schmadel | For the Ligonier Echo
Ligonier Valley High School volunteer Madie Glista, 15, of Ligonier strings lights on a tree on the Diamond. while decorating for the holidays on November 16, 2013 in Ligonier.

When the big red bows and garlands appear around the Diamond, you know Christmas in Ligonier is just around the corner.

Volunteers began the annual decking of the Diamond with hundreds of strings of white lights last weekend.

This year, the Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce's holiday decorating committee is led by Tom and Nancy Donchez of Ligonier.

“We just like helping in the community. We feel it is important,” said Tom Donchez about taking on the leadership role. “The Diamond at Christmas is one of the nicest places in the area.”

The couple has served on the committee for several years.

“We helped Benji Burns and before Benji, we helped Art and Cheryl McMullen for many years,” said Donchez.

New lighted garlands were wrapped around 24 lampposts in and around the Diamond, thanks to a anonymous donation to the chamber's decorating fund.

“This year all of the lampposts around the Diamond will be lit,” he said. “We also had to replace the lights on the bandstand that were removed when it was painted during the summer.”

The chamber is sponsoring an Adopt-A-Lamppost project again this year to help raise funds to pay for new lights and decorations. Individuals, organizations or businesses have the opportunity to purchase a personalized holiday message on a gift tag placed on one of the lampposts. Cost for the tag is $15. Call the chamber at 724-238-4200 to purchase a gift tag.

Donchez said he hopes to raise enough money to replace the garland on the bandstand next year.

The bandstand Christmas tree will be harvested from Carl L. Campbell's tree farm located on the top of Laurel Summit near Somerset. Campbell said he has donated several Christmas trees for Ligonier's bandstand.

“We enjoy the activities of Ligonier,” said Campbell. “We are happy to help support them. This is a way that we can do that.”

Donchez and B.J. Beckner will cut down a 12- to 15-foot blue spruce or concolor fir tree this week. Members of the Ligonier Borough Public Works Department will help place the tree on the bandstand.

Donchez said he appreciates the way the community steps up to help.

“Students from Ligonier Valley High School always help with the project and everyone just does what needs to be done. Abigail's Coffeehouse provides coffee or hot chocolate for our volunteers,” he said. “Bob McCoy has been a big help to me, he is my right hand man this year.”

On Saturday the gingerbread house, nativity scene and other holiday displays will be put into place and ready for the countdown of Santa's arrival in Ligonier at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 29. Volunteers are needed to help move the displays in to place. To help, meet at the Diamond at 9 a.m. Saturday.

“When you first see it all lit up on Santa's arrival night, you look around and know you helped do this, you had a part in making the Christmas spirit on the Ligonier Diamond,” Donchez said.“When you go to other towns, you don't see the Christmas spirit you see when you drive up East Main Street.”

Deborah A. Brehun is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-238-2111 or