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December 23, 2009 > Mary Lou Gillette creates a Warm Springs winter wonderland

Mary Lou Gillette creates a Warm Springs winter wonderland

By Alyson Whitaker
Photos By Alyson Whitaker

Step inside the recreation room at the Warm Springs Community Center and you might think you've landed at the North Pole. Employees of the City of Fremont have spent the last few weeks transforming the center into a Winter Wonderland.

Mary Lou Gillette, a part-time city employee, prides herself on decorating the center each month. The theme changes depending on the season and holidays, as well as the various programs scheduled at the center. The display case in the lobby is updated monthly, much to the delight of visitors. For the Winter Wonderland celebration, Mary Lou painted floor-to-ceiling murals of the North Pole. She enlisted the help of her husband to build a wooden sleigh front for Santa to sit behind.

Three-dimensional snowflakes in the hallway were made by children in the After School Care & Homework Club program. Their uniqueness and detail rival that of commercially made decorations.

During the two weeks prior to the Christmas holiday break classes from the Fremont Park & Recreation Preschool programs visited the center for a special holiday celebration. 'Elves' greeted the children at the door, escorting them into the festively decorated room. Individual classes held their own book exchange, and each student made a set of reindeer antlers. Following a reindeer dance and game, they sat down for a treat of cookies and juice before welcoming a special visitor-Mr. Santa Claus himself!

The celebration wouldn't have been possible without the support of the Community Center Supervisor, Sheri Smith. Sheri has been at the center since its opening in 1984, and has made this a home to all who enter. Sheri's warm and welcoming personality creates an environment where volunteers and employees work together as a cohesive unit, almost like a second family. Her efforts to give back to the community have inspired her employees to go above and beyond the call of duty.

In a time of economic challenges and struggles, Sheri Smith and the other employees and volunteers at the center feel the importance of providing positive experiences for community members of all ages. One look at the smiles on the young faces of the preschoolers walking through the Winter Wonderland is proof that they are succeeding!

For information on programs and classes offered by the City of Fremont Park & Recreation program, visit

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