“And having heard the king, they went their way; and lo, the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them, until it came and stood over where the Child was. And when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.”
The ride in to our Goodland community is a breathtaking trail, and when the mangroves are adorned with shimmering silver stars, we feel great joy, just like the three kings. And if you are like me, you anxiously anticipate the stars every year; wondering how the tradition of the silver stars began.
Carolyn Roth, a Goodlander, started hanging the stars as a tribute to her late daughters Mary Beth, born on Christmas day but dying years later on Easter Sunday at the age of seventeen, and Pam, who passed away in 1983. Carolyn and her husband Richard began with one hundred stars and wrote the names of “Mary Beth” and “Pam” on two of the stars in 2003. They continued the tradition, hanging the stars (and Easter eggs) until 2016, when Carolyn’s health problems wors-ened. Turning to the Goodland Civic Association for help, Goodlanders came to the rescue, and the tradition continues to this day.
When I spoke with Carolyn last week, she mused, “It’s magical. When I drive in, it’s awesome for me to see all the work that all my friends and everybody in Goodland did to keep the tradi-tion alive. It is so good belonging to a small community — everybody wants to help each other.”
Shelly Colley, community volunteer and Goodland Civic Association board member, rallied the troops. Around twenty Santa’s helpers, many from Drop Anchor Mobile Home Park, hung more than 350 stars, and, at the same time, stuffed half a dozen oversized trash bags with garbage that had accumulated since the last community-led trash pickup.
“We had a fun, although chilly morning hanging the stars, and we decided we didn’t have quite enough, so a few of us went back to Drop Anchor and set up a production line. It was a small military operation. Some cut aluminum, someone drew stars, and another cut the thread. Then, we headed back out to hang the new stars to make Goodland shine even brighter, with the loving memory of those who are unable to join us for the festive season.” Sunshine Ace Hardware gen-erously donated some of the star materials: aluminum pie plates, baking tins, and even some alu-minum flashing leftover from Hurricane Irma repairs were used.
Goodlanders have rallied to maintain the tradition, adding more and more stars to the mix, along with the ever-growing names of loved ones that have passed. ‘Tis the season to remember the reason for the season and to be thankful for friends, family, and a blessed community such as Goodland!
Stacia has a husband and two sons, and has resided in Goodland since 2007, and in Florida since 1999. She is a graduate of the University of Missouri.