The Free Press, Mankato, MN

November 30, 2012

Butterfield decides it needs a little Christmas

By Brian Ojanpa
Free Press Staff Writer

BUTTERFIELD — A small idea that snowballed into a much bigger one will give Butterfield the type of holiday fete it hasn’t had in years.

Saturday activities will start with lighting of outdoor Christmas trees at 5 p.m. and move on to Christmas carols sung by the Butterfield-Odin School Choir, kids’ fire truck rides with Santa and a soup supper in the town fire hall.

Event co-organizer Barb Mathistad said the event received a surprise boost from the General Electric corporation, which donated 338 strands of lights and 50 ornaments to the Watonwan County community.

“They said they really don’t make donations like this, but they had these lights left over from their office decorations,” said Mathistad, who wrote the company a letter explaining the needs of the 500-resident town.

Mathistad said 15-20 years ago there were about a dozen businesses on Main Street; now there are five. The only grocery store in town closed two years ago.

Butterfield formerly held an annual Christmas event to benefit a child in need of a kidney transplant, but that type of holiday activity fell by the wayside several years ago due to organizers’ burnout, she said.

Mathistad said the idea for this year’s event grew out of a plea at a Butterfield Community Club meeting.

“I said, ‘We really need to get something going for Christmas.’ At first the thought was to just light a tree, and it just grew from there.”

Businesses and organizations have pitched in with money donations, and all proceeds from the free-will donation supper will go toward purchase of needed equipment for the fire department.