Jolly Well Decorated

The Garden Club of Indian River County's customized Christmas ornaments have become prizes local heirlooms.
What began as a simple fund-raising project is now a highly anticipated annual event. This year’s ornament marks the 14th edition of what are becoming coveted collections of Vero Beach landmarks.

What has become a long-lasting, sold-out tradition in Indian River County began with a thoughtful gesture more than a dozen years ago. Natalie Jackson’s sister-in-law sent her brother in Vero Beach a Christmas present, a tree ornament depicting the hospital where he was born in Richlands, Virginia. The ornament had been a fund-raising project of the garden club she belonged to there.

That gift got Natalie and the creative ladies of the Garden Club of Indian River County thinking how they could adopt the idea and make it their own. Incorporating historic places into the design was a concept that clicked with the newly formed ornament committee, with Natalie as chairman. Arun Wijetilleke accepted the challenge of designing an ornament that would be sought after by enough people to make it a worthwhile endeavor. The first ornament, the old railroad station, was produced for Christmas 1992 and the most recent design, the Vero Beach Municipal Airport as it was more than 50 years ago, was unveiled in September. This latest creation features one of the Mailwing planes that brought mail to Vero Beach in the 1930s.

Read the entire article in the November 2005 issue