Organizers of the annual White Lake Township Community Tree Lighting event are asking for volunteers to help keep the event an annual prized tradition in the township.
Jim Runestad, an Oakland County commissioner whose district includes White Lake and the co-chairman of this year’s tree lighting event, said there is a critical need for volunteers in order to continue the event.
“We are a fun group,” he said. “We laugh, we joke, we have a great time. There’s a lot of excitement, and you feel good when they put this together … the community loves it. We just need more people. It’s growing and gets bigger every year.”
If more volunteers don’t come forward to help, Runestad said, the tree lighting event may not happen this year.
Steve Martinko, owner and president of Contender’s Tree and Lawn Specialists in White Lake, and Julie Strong, director at Gershenson Realty and Investment in Farmington Hills, stepped down as co-chairpersons of the group organizing the event earlier this year.
“Steve was the one who coordinated things going on at the mall in terms of getting lights up, the tree and the logistics there,” Runestad said. “Julie Strong was the contact at the Gershenson mall … Most have said it was a murderous amount of work. (Martinko and Strong) can’t do it this year.”
In an effort to continue the event this year, Runestad said he and Linda Hanneman, manager of Genisys Credit Union in White Lake, will co-chair the organizing committee.
Committee members met on Monday, Sept. 10 to discuss how to proceed with the event and what needs still have to be filled.
Runestad said the group needs volunteers to help with decorating and setting up the tree, fund-raising and contacting local businesses for sponsorships, graphic design, the printing of materials, and other skills.
“We can’t do it if we can’t get help,” he said.
The event has been held at the Village Lake Shopping Center, located south of M-59 and east of Elizabeth Lake Road, in past years. The tree lighting event includes a host of family activities for the Christmas season. Runestad said plans for next year’s event may include moving the tree lighting event to the Fisk Farm, further east and on the north side of M-59.
Individuals or businesses interested in volunteering may contact Runestad at email@example.com or by telephone at 248-802-5500.