Coloring with the Chiefs

Bill Wiesjahn helps his grandson Tyler decorate a cookie following the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Onalaska Thursday night.

A crowd of children lined the parking lot outside Onalaska City Hall Thursday night to count down to the city’s annual tree lighting ceremony.

Children chanted from 10 at the top of their lungs, and with a final cheer, a switch was flipped bringing the Christmas tree to life.

After the lighting ceremony, a wave of children packed the fire department where they decorated cookies and colored with Chief of Police Jeffery Trotnic and Fire Chief Don Dominick.

“This is a wonderful event they put on for the kids,” said Naomi Wiesjahn, who was accompanying her grandchildren Tyler and Logan Wiesjahn along with their cousin Will Thielker.

The event was sponsored by the Onalaska Park and Recreation department, Centering Onalaska and in collaboration with the Police and Fire Departments.

Trotnic said the event was a great opportunity for police and firefighters to interact with the public in a setting many children seldom get to see.

“With the lights, it kind of brings the holidays together,” he said.

For Patrick Clements, President of Centering Onalaska, the event was another opportunity for the civic group to get involved and make a city activity a little brighter.

He said growing up in Dubuque, Iowa he remembered how special it was watching the city come together to light the Christmas tree.

“I’ll never forget that,” Clements said.

Four years ago, Centering Onalaska partnered with Tthe Onalaska Park and Recreation department to recreate that memory.

“What we’re trying to do is recreate happiness for the kids,” Clements said.


Coulee Courier reporter

Tobias Mann is a reporter with the River Valley Media Group. He can be reached at or at 608-791-8216.

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