Youngsters create holiday arrangements

By Sean Barron

Evergreens and candy canes were the centerpieces of the holiday decorations.

YOUNGSTOWN — Someone’s Christmas will be a shade of green or two more decorative this year, thanks to the creative efforts of 6-year-old Jayden Emerick.

Just who that someone is, however, remains a mystery.

“It’s a surprise who I’m giving it to,” said Jayden, a first- grader at South Range Elementary School, referring to a decorative piece she made with evergreens, candy canes and colorful flower combinations.

Jayden was one of at least a dozen youngsters who, accompanied by an adult, took part in a 90-minute holiday decorating class Saturday at the D.D. and Velma Davis Education and Visitor Center in Mill Creek MetroParks’ Fellows Riverside Gardens.

The class gave youngsters age 6 and older an opportunity to assemble holiday arrangements using Christmas-themed coffee cups, candy canes and pines, along with carnations and other flowers.

“It’s a fun thing for a grandma to do with her grandkid,” said Marilyn Emerick, Jayden’s grandmother.

Other park-related favorites of Jayden’s include reading in the center’s library and visiting a kids garden, added Emerick, of New Springfield.

Also busily putting together a similar project was 8-year-old Elizabeth Cardiero of Girard, who came with her mother, Amy.

Elizabeth, though, wasn’t shy about revealing who will be on the receiving end of her arrangement. Elizabeth’s recipient is to be her second-grade art teacher at Prospect Elementary School, “because she teaches me creative stuff.”

Making such decorations is old hat for the youngster, Amy Cardiero said, adding that mother and daughter have attended a variety of classes at the center for several years.

“Elizabeth likes creativity and she uses her hands a lot,” Amy Cardiero said, adding that the family plans a traditional holiday celebration with local relatives.

Teaching the class was Anita Wesler, a horticulture instructor with the park.

Among other things, Wesler provided tips to youngsters and adults alike on ways to make their projects as visually appealing as possible.

She also dispensed advice about keeping the flowers fresh.

Another purpose of the class was to foster in the children a greater appreciation for the uses of evergreens and other similar holiday plants and shrubs, noted Wesler, adding that the park features one class each month for children 6 and over as well as three for preschoolers.

Assisting Wesler was Beverly Italiano, a volunteer coordinator and receptionist with Fellows Riverside Gardens.

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