Yvonne Rowley & the Decorators

Seated (L to R): Norma Jean Moorefield, Chris Robinson, Yvonne Rowley
Standing (L to R): Diann Szumlas, Joann Kloos, Paula Voight, Paulette “P.K.” Trouba, Jan Jacobson, Linda Davis
Not Pictured: Pauline Clairoux, Deanna Darrah and Terry Bateman

“Thirty-one times a year! Thirty-one?”

That was my response when Yvonne Rowley told me how often the Decorating Team does its work. Then she added, “And it’s not thirty-one times a year: it’s thrity-one times in five months.”

For this guy, who is an assistant decorator once a year, at Christmas, that’s hard to imagine. But then I met with the decorators, experienced the humor and energy they bring to their work, and it started to make sense.

And if the decorating team didn’t have enough to do, what with pitching in on every boogie, dinner and special event, they also have their annual toy drive, the Silveridge Santa. (Last year, their first, they gathered 80+ toys to donate to local kids via Legion Post #27. This year, with a generous boost from the Billiards Club, they more than doubled last year’s total, at 252 toys. And many of these were wonder toys – bikes and games to delight any kid.)

Silveridge Various Activities

When I sat down with team leader Yvonne Rowley, I wondered how she got her start. “When we moved here, Norma Jean Moorefield lived two doors down. Norma Jean is an original – she’s lived here since the park opened — and she got me into decorating. That was 11 years ago. And she’s still part of our group.” (She’s the one in the photo with the “Grandma is the next best thing to Santa” shirt)

When asked about her role as the group’s leader, Yvonne gave a little shake of her head and said, “Lou Pickard is Silveridge decorating, not me.” And then she smiled as she recalled stories of the woman who founded the decorating team, how Lou not only took joy in her decorating the ballroom and other facilities, but how she loved to dress for the events.

Silveridge Various Activities

For those of you who weren’t around, let me pass along the heartwarming story of the tribute to Lou when she passed away last year. Her children wanted to leave something for the folks at Silveridge who knew and loved Lou, and they offered four boxes of her jewelry. It’s fitting that the decorators turned that jewelry into decorations – they outfitted a special white tree with her jewelry and invited the ladies of Silveridge to take a piece as a memento.

Silveridge Various Activities

The team has worked to make sure Silveridge’s decorations continue. Yvonne said, “One big project for last year was organizing the Decorators’ Room.” (The room itself is impressive, its built-in shelving filled with big plastic tubs labeled Mardi Gras or Island or MASH. ) “Several of us are from Canada,” she added as explanation, “and there might come a year where some of us can’t get down. Two of my fellow Canadians, Joan Rosenberger and Wendy Holmoka, spearheaded the effort to make sure we had everything labeled and ready.”

Yvonne in decorating room

Yvonne, in the Decorators’ Room

So the decorating team merrily carries on the work started by Lou, and thanks to donations in her memory, is acquiring new, large decorations. Look for them at upcoming events.