JEFFERSON — A magical evening was in store at Jefferson’s Lions Club Park, Saturday, as the Lions Club presented its annual Enchanted Forest, showcasing 115 decorative Christmas trees.

“We’ve been doing this for years and years, and the proceeds support local scholarships for high school (students) going off to college,” said Paul Moore, president of Jefferson Lions Club.

Funds raised also support the club’s community outreach efforts and helps send disabled children to the Lions Club summer camp in Kerrville.

“We have camp in the summer time. This year it was postponed because of the pandemic, so hopefully this next summer we’ll have that,” said Moore.

Moore said trees were available at $60 apiece for businesses, residents and organizations to buy, decorate and dedicate in honor or memory of anyone they wish. Moore said the club still has more trees available for purchase to support the fundraiser.

Peggy Walker with the Chamber said the Enchanted Forest event offered a fun time for families to enjoy, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s been a very different celebration, but it’s still a celebration,” said Walker. “We won’t stop celebrating.

“Our trees are bigger and better than they’ve ever been before,” she added. “We’re pretty proud of that. And everybody’s so excited this year to be able to participate and get a tree, decorate them and do something fun. It’s about fun. And also the money that we make goes to scholarships and community projects, which we will definitely need help with in this town; and that’s what Lion’s Club is all about.”

Walker said people love taking a stroll through the park during the Christmas season to view the pretty trees. She noted that the park offers the perfect backdrop for the occasion.

“It’s a nice, quiet, laid back, kind of place,” said Walker. “It’s just fun.

“For your kids, they can wander around and yet you still can social distance however you choose to do; but it’s still fun,” she said. “We can’t take the fun out of it. It’s all about fun and that’s the whole reason for the season.”

Jefferson Mayor Rob Baker said he, too, was glad they were able to carry on with the event, considering the challenging year 2020 has been.

“With the year that we have had with COVID and the amount of challenges — personal, work, health, the whole thing, and the amount of strife we’ve got in our political arena — it’s just been really tough year for a lot of people,” said Baker.“But when it comes down to a town like Jefferson, it offers just a relaxed holiday feel, just like it’s always been, just like it always will.

“It’s a step back in history and it’s a comfortable family atmosphere,” Mayor Baker continued. “It allows you to kind of forget about all the challenges, just for a little bit. We’re here to basically give people the opportunity to step back in history, just have a childhood memory like we had growing up.”

The opening of the Enchanted Forest followed Saturday’s annual Christmas parade, hosted by the Marion County Chamber of Commerce. Doug Thompson, a Chamber board member, said this year featured more than 30 entries.

“Every year the Marion County Chamber of Commerce hosts the parade,” said Thompson. “We’ve got entries from Texarkana, Shreveport, Marshall, Longview and Marion County here.”

He said while many organization princesses and businesses participate, all are there to have fun.

“It’s not an advertising event, it’s just a fun event,” said Thompson.

He said Santa makes his appearance atop of the fire truck at the very end of the parade. Following Santa’s appearance, attendees look forward to trekking to the park to watch the lighting of the Christmas trees and visit with Santa.

“It works out fantastic,” said Thompson.

Individuals, families, organizations or businesses can still purchase a six-foot or seven-foot Frasier Fir Christmas tree from the Jefferson Lions Club by calling Lions president, Paul Moore, at 318-347-5673.

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