Young Professionals reveal 2018 ornament

DOWAGIAC — Even though the holiday is still more than a month away, The Young Professionals of Greater Dowagiac are already getting into the Christmas spirit.

The organization recently unveiled its 2018 Christmas ornament, which each year features a scene or object from the city’s history. In past years, the ornaments have featured a Dowagiac Chieftain, a Round Oak stove and a Heddon fishing lure. The 2018 ornament will showcase the Dowagiac Orphan Train, which arrived in the city in 1854 and led to the successful adoption of 37 orphaned children from New York City. The Orphan Train went on for 75 more years, leading to placements for 250,000 children.

The ornaments are $25 each and are currently available for preorder on the Young Professionals of Greater Dowagaic’s website, ypdowagiac.wixsite.com/uniquelydowagiac. In two weeks, the ornaments, 100 in total, will be available for purchase online and at the Dowagiac Area History Museum, Deck the Halls and Baker’s Rhapsody. All proceeds will be used to support Young Professional projects including the daddy-daughter dance, the mother-son dance and the Fourth of July fireworks.

Young Professionals Member Amy Marks said they group chose the Orphan Train for this season’s ornament due to the city’s Orphan Train project and mural, which was completed in 2017.

“We want to celebrate the history of Dowagiac as the train’s first stop that made the Orphan Train a success,” Marks said. “And we wanted to do that while it was fresh in everyone’s minds.”

The Orphan Train was Marks’ first choice for the 2018 ornament as she helped work on the city’s mural in 2017. She said the history of the Orphan Train — and all Dowagiac history — is worth remembering.

“We really want to help Dowagiac understand Dowagiac’s history,” Marks said. “We want people to put these on their Christmas trees — and we have little stands for people who don’t have Christmas trees — to understand what Dowagiac is about and the history of Dowagiac so maybe people who don’t know about the Orphan Train or the Heddon lures or the Round Oak will learn more about them and appreciate them.”

Over the four years that the Young Professionals have been hosting the Christmas ornament fundraiser, Marks said the group has been successful at capturing Dowagiac history and the attention of city residents. The group sells between 120 and 170 ornaments each year, with many people treating the ornaments as collectables, Marks said. For that reason, the group carries a small amount of past ornaments on their website.

“We feel a lot of people really get into the holiday spirit,” Marks said. “Ornaments seemed like a good thing for us to do around this season, and people really seem to like them.”

This year, the Young Professionals have a goal of raising $1,000 from the project. Marks said she hopes the Dowagiac community will respond to the ornaments with excitement.

“We hope that people will respond the same way they did to the Orphan Train project last year,” she said. “We hope people will appreciate the history of how Dowagiac was the first stop on the Orphan Train and how [Dowagiac] made the project a success by adopting the orphans.”

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