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Hu Blonk knew he had a story when he discovered Christmas in July

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Holden Village began celebrating Christmas in July to express love and compassion for Ruben Thompson. During the winters of 1963 and 1964 Ruben was the Holden caretaker living alone in the winter at this remote site. The Volunteer staff decided since Ruben was without family and friends on December 25 a community Christmas celebration with Ruben should be held in the summer. July 25 was the date selected.

One summer Hu Blonk was traveling in a private boat up Lake Chelan to Stehekin. Hu was well known in the area through his long association with The Wenatchee World and his coverage of Grand Coulee Dam. After Hu retired he continued writing articles when a unique story caught his interest. The private boat with Hu aboard arrived at the Lucerne Dock just as the Lady of the Lake was unloading passengers. It happened to be July 25 and Wes Prieb was on the dock in his Santa Clause suit welcoming the arriving Holden Guests. Hu decided to leave his friends and take the bus to Holden and investigate the background of a Santa Clause in full uniform appearing in mid summer. Hu was even more intrigued when he learned that Oscar Getty, Lucerne pioneer, also joined the festivities proudly wearing a Santa hat along with his ever present corn cob pipe.

Hu arrived in the Village and interviewed me resulting in the story in the Wenatchee World. United Press International (UPI) picked up the story and it started appearing in news papers all over the country. Many of these articles were sent back to Holden by former Holden guests who saw the story in their local papers. Later that summer I received a letter from a Holden faculty member living in Pennsylvania. He said he was driving the turnpike listening to National Public Radio when they began playing Christmas music. They proceeded to share the story of Christmas being celebrated in July in a remote mountain community called Holden Village. The curiosity of Hu Blonk resulted in a unique story that went national.

For Holden, the Spirit of Christmas took on new meaning because of the love and compassion for a favorite care taker. Christmas in July continues being celebrated at Holden Village almost fifty years latter. It should be obvious to us that the love and caring shared at Christmas should to be a daily experience not just a once a year observance.

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