Every small rural community has at least one thing that passes from generation to generation. For the Meadows Valley, it’s the tall spruce tree in downtown New Meadows. In the early 1930’s, Dorsey Warr planted two small blue spruce trees in the front yard of his house on Virginia Street. As they grew bigger, he unfortunately had to cut one of them down. From the very beginning, Dorsey decorated his trees every holiday season, and for more than 50 years the community enjoyed the display. In 1990, Dorsey was injured falling off his ladder and could no longer decorate the tree himself.
The community stepped in to help finish the job. It was about this time that the Wheelocks moved to town. Robert Wheelock had connections for purchasing new holiday lights due to his commercial holiday lighting company that decorated malls. The community came together to obtain additional lighting and the four swags that were hung across Virginia street. Eventually, Idaho Department of Transportation requested that the swags no longer be hung across the highway, but the tradition of putting lights on the now-much-taller blue spruce continued. JoElla Warr Bollar, Dorsey Warr’s daughter, is filled with joy every year when the lights shine brightly against the night sky.
Over the years, many different groups and individuals have come together to continue the lighting of the Meadows Valley Christmas tree in front of what is now called the Dorsey Warr Building. Fundraising events and private donations have paid to upgrade older bulbs with new LED’s and purchase new strings of lights. This year, the community was blessed to have an angel appear, helping string the lights on the tree with her boom truck: Jenn Berggren with Native Sisters Tree Service from Riggins came to New Meadows on a rainy day to lift the star and the lights onto the tree.
For those who remember Dorsey, they know he is smiling down at Santa and the kids as they plug in the lights on the tree every year. This year, Santa and the kids will light the tree on Saturday, December 1st.
And so, the tradition continues for Meadows Valley and the people who live within, community volunteers continuing the lighting of the Meadows Valley Christmas tree. They can say, with great pride, that they have continued the Dorsey Warr tradition of the “Miracle on Virginia Street.”