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Seasonal evergreens installed downtown with eye toward their beginning
Oxenreider family providing greens for the past 20 years
Mary Roderick puts the final touches on a pot Saturday, Nov. 12. All received winterberries this year through a private donation.

MONROE — As volunteers sorted and grouped boughs for the 45 downtown pots, some new volunteers asked where the boughs came from this year. As has been the case for many years, Stan and Donna Oxenreider provided them.

The Oxendreider’s tree farm near Browntown has been the reason for many joyous Christmas memories over the years. In addition to the boughs for the planters, they have donated a tree to Turner Hall for its annual tree lighting tradition since 2006. Stan Oxenreider operated a tree farm, Stan’s Rock and Tree Farm, for about 15 years but retired in 2016. Since then, however, the donations have continued.

Discuss the boughs with GWFC Monroe Woman’s Club and Main Street Monroe, and the details on just how this collaborative effort started may be hazy. The Oxenreiders have been donating the boughs for the better part of the last 20 years. 

Julie Buchanan, who coordinates the annual effort remembers going to their tree farm when they first moved to Monroe in 2012. But prior to the new planters being purchased by Main Street Monroe in 2010, Stan and Donna were already providing greens. Their generosity has been the linchpin for the entire project. 

Monroe Lion’s Club takes the donated trees — which used to be cut by handsaws, now chainsaws over two days — to another group who turns the branches into workable sized boughs. Numerous community volunteers then install them on a typically cold mid-November day. This year, it was approximately 26 degrees when volunteers first started.

This year efforts, in addition to GWFC Monroe Woman’s Club, Main Street Monroe, and the Lion’s Club, were undertaken by Juda Next Generation 4H Group, Kris and Kevin Winkler, Connors Logging and Tree Service, Whitney Tree Service, Tom and Brenda Rossing, and the city Streets Department. Main Street is also responsible for all downtown decorations. 

“It really feels like the end of an era when this annual effort has been going on for so long that no one quite remembers how the first connection was made, only that it’s been wonderful and over generations at this point,” said Jordan Nordby, Main Street Monroe’s executive director when asked about the Oxenreiders. “We’re grateful for all the years and efforts they’ve made to help our community look so good for the holidays. Many thanks to them. It may take a village, but it has always started with them.” 

All of those involved congratulated Stan and Donna on their well-deserved retirement. Main Street Monroe and GWFC Woman’s Club are actively determining how greens will be secured in future years. Anyone interested in being involved should contact either Julie Buchanan at 608-325-9075 or Nordby at 608-328-4023.