Spring Meadow adapts this winter: Smyrna community’s event pivots amid pandemic

Trees are lighted at the Spring Meadow community clubhouse every night between 5 and 9 through January. This year, the Smyrna development’s light display also includes a charity drive. (Submitted photo)

SMYRNA — Give the active 55-plus Spring Meadow community an A-plus for adaptation, creativity and giving this holiday season.

When the neighborhood’s annual Christmas tree lighting inside its clubhouse was scrapped due to COVID-19 concerns, residents simply moved the show outside.

And they weren’t done adapting with the times, turning the move outdoors into a “Light Up the Meadow” charity drive for various area organizations.

Fourteen groups decorated various holly, pine and deciduous trees around the clubhouse, each with a placard at the bottom seeking money for a specified charity.

There’s even a dead tree with one bobble, dedicated to Charlie Brown and friends.

“Because of COVID, we couldn’t do anything inside, so we had to come up with something to do outside,” said Clubhouse Manager Francesca Corea. “So we said, ‘We have a lot of trees out there. Why don’t we decorate the trees then?’”

Organizers Francesca Corea, left, Dawn Barton and Fred Firstbrook stand next to a tree that’s part of the “Light Up the Meadow” display. (Submitted photo)

Ms. Corea said 14 clubs within Spring Meadow “jumped right on it and said, ‘Absolutely, we’ll do a tree. We’ll figure out the lighting,’ They had to do it all themselves.”

She said that at some point, a resident suggested connecting the decorating to a charity drive, since most of the clubs couldn’t support families over the holidays due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It was a great way to get back to the charity side of it,” Ms. Corea said.
The venture has “been able to bring some light into a dark time,” she added.

“Let’s face it: The sun goes down, and it gets dark at 4:30, 5 o’clock, and everyone in the community is staying home, staying inside. Well, now, I’ve noticed a lot of the community driving around slowly, looking at it, taking that walk of the day with the dog looking at it, just getting out to see the trees.”

Said Spring Meadow resident Dawn Barton, “There’s an enormous sense of pride in that it started out as just tossing around some ideas and then to actually see it to fruition and how beautiful it looks is simply amazing.

“It just shows how this community came together and literally lit up the community in every single way. They came together in groups to decorate it, and then, once it’s all decorated and those lights are on, it’s just magical. It’s a sight to see.”

A surge of donations came rolling in. According to Spring Meadow Community Fund Treasurer Fred Firstbrook, $4,315 was raised by last Thursday. The amounts ranged from $20 to $30, indicating that a lot of folks bought into the concept.

“I’ve only lived in this community for 16 months, but I wonder (if) it’s our finest hour because of the number of people who are taking part, and just the way they’ve supported it is impressive,” Mr. Firstbrook said.

The lights on Spring Meadow Drive next to northbound U.S. 13 between Smyrna and Cheswold will remain on from 5-9 each evening through January.

Recipient organizations include American Legion Ambulance Service Station 64, the Smyrna School District Needy Family Fund, The Shepherd Place, the Delaware State Troopers Association Benevolent Fund, the Faithful Friends Animal Society, Toys for Tots and Caring Hearts, Helping Hands.

For more information or to donate, contact Ms. Corea at fcorea2011@hotmail.com or (607) 759-0762.