Those motorcades are a wonderful tradition befitting the real Georgia begun by Gov. Ernest Vandiver in 1958. They used to occur in Rome as well, until the state closed Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital.
Perhaps those with the Christmas spirit in these parts should wonder if those developmentally disabled and mentally distressed clients now scattered about in community-based care will be similarly remembered this year. How come the mayors and those who helped them gather such gifts have not been asked to restructure the Mayors Motorcade to visit many places instead of just one as in the past? Santa Claus is not just at the mall, after all. He comes down every chimney.
Also now missing in Rome is one of its grandest holiday traditions, the annual Lighting of the Trees of Hope at NWGRH’s now dark and shuttered campus. The four cedar trees once sparkled with more than 30,000 lights, one each for every patient served since the ceremony began in 1985. There was a parade and carolers serenading the patients, too.
This community’s Christmas is the poorer for that event’s absence. Having lost the one “big deal” that kept this population and its needs somewhat in public view certainly hasn’t helped the overall problem.
Perhaps it is time to think up something of similar nature to replace it.