Celebrating Community Spirit: Camp Ondessonk Volunteers and Metro East Lodge Members Shine in the 2023 Optimist Santa Parade
Belleville, IL – On Friday, November 24, 2023, the heart of Downtown Belleville came alive with festive cheer as the community gathered for the much-anticipated 2023 Optimist Santa Parade. Among the vibrant array of floats and participants, the standout presence of Camp Ondessonk volunteers and Metro East Lodge members added an extra layer of joy to the celebration.
The streets were packed with eager patrons, families, and friends who had gathered to witness the annual spectacle. Among the parade’s highlights was the iconic Camp Ondessonk Float created by long-time volunteer Jim Shively, which captured the attention and hearts of onlookers.
Camp Ondessonk, nestled in the heart of the Shawnee National Forest, has long been a beacon of community engagement and outdoor education. For the past 14 years, Camp’s volunteers have been an integral part of the Optimist Santa Parade, bringing their unique blend of enthusiasm and community spirit. Camp Ondessonk’s summer camp program Belleville IL has proven to be an intricate community partner.
This year, their participation was elevated by the collaboration with members of the Metro East Lodge, an organization dedicated to community service and charitable endeavors. The Metro East Lodge members added an extra layer of camaraderie and shared purpose to the event by spreading the good word about Camp Ondessonk.
The Camp Ondessonk Float, full of creativity and holiday spirit, made its way through the parade route to the crowd’s delight. Adorned with festive decorations, the float visually represented Camp’s commitment to fostering a sense of community, joy, and adventure.
Volunteers, dressed in festive attire, walked alongside the float, interacting with the crowd and spreading holiday cheer. Their smiles and positive energy were infectious, creating a ripple effect of happiness among the spectators. Families lined the streets, waving and cheering as the Camp Ondessonk Float became a moving symbol of togetherness and celebration.
The Metro East Lodge members, led by Lizzy Schauster and Nick Sanders, were proud to stand alongside their fellow community members from Camp Ondessonk, showcasing collaboration’s power in creating memorable experiences for the community. Their commitment to service and shared values shone brightly during the parade, reinforcing that community spirit is a powerful force that brings people together.
As the last echoes of the Optimist Santa Parade faded away, the impact of Camp Ondessonk volunteers and Metro East Lodge members lingered in the memories of those who witnessed the spectacle. The event served not only as a celebration of the holiday season but also as a testament to the strength of community bonds and the positive influence that organizations like Camp Ondessonk and the Metro East Lodge can have on the places they call home.
In the spirit of giving, joy, and unity, the 2023 Optimist Santa Parade in Downtown Belleville will be remembered as a shining example of how community members can come together to create moments of magic and warmth during the festive season. Camp Ondessonk and the Metro East Lodge have once again demonstrated that the true beauty of the holidays lies in the shared experiences that bring people closer, fostering a sense of belonging that lasts long after the decorations are put away.
Click here to learn more about upcoming Camp Ondessonk events.
Click here to learn more about the Summer Camp program Belleville IL.
Click here to learn more about The Loyal Lodge of Ondessonk & Tekakwitha.