PULLING TOGETHER: McCordsville neighborhood unites for the holiday season

Deb Roysdon, center, and her neighbors have prepared cards for hospital patients, held a neighborhood parade and delivered gifts to residents at an assisting living center, among other activities. (Tom Russo | Daily Reporter) Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

McCORDSVILLE — The Christmas spirit is especially alive and well in one McCordsville community.

Residents of the Emerald Springs neighborhood took part in a Christmas parade that weaved through the streets earlier this month, as neighbors stood outside and cheered.

They’ve also been adorning their houses for the holidays, inspired in part by the neighborhood’s holiday decorating contest, which will award gift baskets to the winners selected by Facebook votes.

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At 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve, all Emerald Springs residents are encouraged to go into their driveways and ring bells to herald the holiday near the end of a trying year.

“We wanted to do something to let everybody know that we’re in this together and we’re going to make the best of it,” neighborhood organizer Deb Roysdon said.

She and a handful of other neighbors, called the Emerald Springs Holiday Helpers, have come together to make the holidays merry and bright in their community.

In addition to the parade and decorating contest, the Holiday Helpers also plan to display luminaries through the neighborhood in memory of COVID-19 patients and other loved ones who have died, and in honor of front-line workers.

They’ve also delivered holiday cards to patients at Hancock Regional Hospital and cards and gifts to residents of a nearby assisted living center.

“Everything has been negative it seems like this year, so we wanted to just bring the holiday spirit out and bring joy to everybody,” Roysdon said.

She and her wife, Sherry, even have a mailbox for Santa on their front porch. Sherry Roysdon is tasked with writing responses to the kids who drop letters there.

The couple toted Santa around in the bed of their truck at the neighborhood Christmas parade.

It’s not the first year Roysdon has engaged her neighbors in the holiday spirit. For years, she’s encouraged friends and neighbors to contribute to blessing others through her late father’s foundation, the Jack Roysdon Memorial Foundation.

“This year we took in Christmas cards to give to the hospitals for COVID patients who don’t have any family, or just anybody who is in there during this time,” said Roysdon, continuing a service her father did for years.

Residents also took gifts to the residents at Traditions at Brookside, an assisted living center in McCordsville.

“We have a whole room of presents waiting to go over there,” Roysdon said earlier this month.

“Usually we have cookies and punch and sing Christmas songs with them. This year (due to COVID) we’ll just drop the gifts off, but we know it will bring a smile to their face when they get them,” she said.

Shawna Scheumann, one of Emerald Springs’ Holiday Helpers, said it’s been great to see the community pull together this year.

“I think it’s pretty cool, especially with the year we’ve had this year. I think everybody just decided to come together and embrace the season together,” she said, “even if many are stuck in their homes.”

About half the neighborhood’s 300 or so houses have been decorated this year, she said, which seems to be more than ever before.

Scheumann loves seeing the holiday spirit, and enjoyed watching the lighted parade, which she said was small but heart-warming. About 20 participants drove by, including some kids on bikes or in miniature cars, some in a golf cart, and some in a Jeep with the doors off. All vehicles were adorned with Christmas lights, and most were playing Christmas songs.

“Probably 75% of the neighborhood was out that night,” Roysden said.

The Mt. Vernon Township Fire Department drove through tossing out candy and other goodies to the kids.

Just seeing the smiles on people’s faces made it all worthwhile, Roysdon said.

“We had people yell, ‘You have to do this again next year!’ as we drove by,” she said.

This is the first year for the Emerald Springs holiday parade and the decorating contest, but it might not be the last.

Scheumann has noticed a lot of enthusiasm for the decorating contest, especially among “a couple of very determined gentlemen who really want to win. I don’t think they care about the prizes. They just want bragging rights,” she said.

“I swear, every time I walk my dog past one of my neighbor’s houses, he’s got something new up every time.”

Scheumann said the spirit of community is nothing new for Emerald Springs. It’s common to share in summertime activities, like the food trucks that were brought out to the community pool this summer.

“We wanted to do that just so people could get out of their homes. That’s just how this neighborhood is,” she said.

Roysdon is thankful for the chance to help spread a little holiday spirit among her neighbors.

“I just like to see the true spirit of Christmas come through for people,” she said. “It would be great to keep the spirit going throughout the year.”

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In this era of extraordinary upheaval, quiet gestures of grace and generosity are helping define a holiday season like no other. A series of stories in the Daily Reporter, “Angels Among Us,” introduces you to some of the people whose efforts are brightening the season in our communities.