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Tree Lighting Event Celebrates 50 Years of Garden Circle

The Town 'N Country Garden Circle and Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department are sponsoring the event.

When the Town 'N Country Garden Circle began 50 years ago, there were about eight members. The group grew little by little to the more than 70 current members.

People like Ramona Pollock know the hard work it took to get the group where it is today.

"We tried to get involved not only in our own community but in the county and the state," Pollock said. "We were just a tiny circle compared to some but we were doing big things and enjoyed every minute of it."

The Town 'N Country Garden Circle will join with Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation Department on Friday, Dec. 7 for their third annual Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration.

The tree lighting was a dream of Fran Gamester, immediate past president of the Town 'N Country Garden Circle.

"We have a lot of children that may not have a Christmas," said Gamester, who joined the club in 2001. "I thought let lthem have a Christmas. I have some beautiful stuffed animals and they get to sit on Santa Claus' lap."

The event begins at 5 p.m. at Shimburg Gardens and will include opening remarks by County Commissioner Ken Hagen, live music by Davis Elementary, a bounce house, face painting along with free food and drinks.

When the Town 'N Country Garden Circle began it was a way to help Florida newcomers understand the gardening landscape.

"Most of us were not from Florida, so nobody knew how to take care of their yards or what to do," Pollock said. "So we all just got together and we brought in a few people and started bringing in others to learn about the what's here in Florida and how do we take care of it."

The Town 'N Country Garden Circle planted large magnolia trees around what was the former U-Save grocery store on Hillsborough Avenue. For years, the group decorated the Christmas Tree at First Federal Bank of Florida in downtown Tampa, including making handmade ornaments.

"We worked like crazy," Pollock said.

Pollock, who is in her 70s, has since moved to Westchase but still feels a sense of pride in the upcoming tree lighting event.

"It almost makes me cry," said Pollock, who still attends occasional meetings. "It does make me very proud."

Each member of the current Town 'N Country Garden Circle is making 3-dozen cookies for the event, Gamester said.

They'll provide free food as long as it last. 

Gamester is especially thankful for sponsors who include Denny's, Walmart, Village Inn, McDonald's and more.

"I'm excited," Gamester said.

If You Go:

What: Town 'N Country Christmas Tree Lighting

When: Friday, Dec. 7 - 5 to 8 p.m.

Where: Shimberg Gardens, 7606 Paula Drive

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