Published: December 19, 2018

WATCH: Geneseo Garden Club has led fountain-decorating tradition for nearly 50 years

This article appeared on December 7, 2018, via the Livingston County News ( It was reprinted with permission from Ben Beagle, the author of the article. The article highlights the Kappa Theta/SUNY Geneseo Chapter.

GENESEO – Georgene Ehmann has been a member of the Geneseo Garden Club for 28 years. And in nearly every one of those years she has joined fellow club members in the week after Thanksgiving to decorate the Christmas trees in the fountain at Main and Center streets.

“It’s a tradition,” Ehmann said Nov. 29 after once again helping to decorate the trees. “I like being part of the community and dressing up the community. It also tells us that Christmas is coming.”

Four trees are featured in the fountain, which each tree strung with red and white paper garlands, foam ornaments sparkling with glitter and pine cones with a dusting of white powder teasingly suggesting a layer of snow.

Third-grade students from Geneseo Elementary School made the garland and ornaments, while kindergarten students contributed the pine cone ornaments.

“The kids get really excited when they see their ornaments as they drive by the fountain,” Ehmann said.

Garden Club member Barbara Christansen, a retired Geneseo Central School elementary teacher, chairs the tree decorating committee and coordinated the creation of the decorations.

A group of about ten Garden Club members did the decorating with assistance from a trio of Theta Chi fraternity members – Ben Ford of Rochester, a sophomore business marketing major; Toby Wirth of Elmira, a junior political science major; and Kevin Thompson of Buffalo, a sophomore biology major – from SUNY Geneseo.

“I did it last year, and had such a good time doing it, I wanted to continue,” said Ford.

The group worked quickly and was able to have the four trees decorated in about a half hour. Afterward, several decorators retired to an area restaurant for lunch, a warm drink and holiday cheer.

This year, the fraternity reached out to the Garden Club in October to see when the club would be decorating. In past years, the club made the initial contacts with the fraternity.

“It helps make Main Street look good; it’s a way for us to give back,” Thompson said.

The Garden Club first decorated the Main Street fountain for Christmas 1971, though the club’s records didn’t indicate if trees were included in the inaugural decorations or if trees were used in subsequent years.

A Village of Geneseo public works crew had placed the Christmas trees in the fountain and installed the lights on the trees earlier in the week. The trees were officially lit Dec. 1 as part of the village’s ChristmasSing celebration.

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