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Out There: Cranberry fest-goers can get special treats (with video)

7:25 PM, Sep. 19, 2013  |  Comments
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It's cranberry season, and people are gearing up for regional cranberry festivals - including the 41st annual Warrens Cranberry Festival, which kicks off Sept. 27.

Retirement Community of Nekoosa residents are putting together cranberry fest survival packages - a collection of odds and ends gathered in pink, recyclable shopping bags. This is the third year the residence has put the bags together and the first year residents have been part of the process.

"People go right past our building on their way to Warrens," said Susan Berklund, executive director at the facility. "Why not provide a tote for them with items they can use at (the festival)?"

She came up with the idea to offer the goody-filled totes, which also would give visitors a chance to get a peek at the facility, located at 145 N. Cedar St., Nekoosa. This year, she got the residents involved.

Millie Pelo, 89, June Oleson, 88, and Jackie Schreck, 87, demonstrated the process Thursday - and while they were serious about the work, they also were serious about having fun. Jokes flew back and forth as quickly as the bags were filled.

"See what I have to put up with?" quipped Laura Mumper, life enrichment coordinator at the facility.

The lightweight totes are filled assembly-line style, as residents pop in items, such as key chains with the facility logo and donations from Nekoosa and Wisconsin Rapids businesses. The bags will include hand lotion, antibacterial gel, pens, emery boards, tissues and granola bars, just to mention a few items.

"We do have a good time," Pelo said.

A total of 100 bags will be available, with the first 25 containing a mystery gift from the facility.

"We like to be busy," Schreck said.

Visitors also can enjoy cookies and coffee when they stop, Berklund said.

"They start stopping about 6:30 a.m.," she said. "They're laughing and having fun.

"I think it's starting to become a tradition for some of the cranfesters along the way," Berklund said. "It's growing every year."

"It's a lot of fun," she said. "We've enjoyed it, and we welcome anyone to join us this year, also."

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