Sarasota’s loss is Ontario’s gain

Sarasota, Fla., lost this season; Ontario, Wis., wins. How does a city with a population of 55,000 in a “snowbird” paradise lose to an obscure rural village in a quiet, beautiful, Driftless area in Wisconsin. This small village of Ontario, Wis., with a population of a little more than 500 residents, is the winner of the Christmas season in this story. 

The star player in this story, Wilmer (Butch) Pearson of Ontario, has chosen to return to Ontario, no longer making his annual trek south as a snowbird after 28 years. With the arrival of the first freezing weather and swirling snowflakes, Butch closes his large Ontario home and returns to Florida’s warmer weather. There, he has involved himself in volunteer work to benefit The John & Mable Ringling Museum. This fall, before our first falling snow, as local residents drive up Park Street hill, we have remarked, “Butch has his premises gate decorated.”

Little did we know of his plans for a Christmas Wonderland open house at his Park Street home on Dec. 8–10 and a Christmas tea on Dec. 15 and Dec. 16. 

Wilmer is a local retired high school English teacher and high school librarian for 32 years. He also operated the local Kickapoo Paddle Inn restaurant and canoe rental service in Ontario. He is a man of varied interests, and they have been made to benefit these two communities in which he has lived. Books, reading and the knowledge they offer have always remained one of Butch’s passions. It is no surprise that the little village library in Ontario has continued to grow and develop with many new technologies offered. One can find many new resources, along with the old, due to the foresighted volunteer efforts of many past and present volunteers under Butch’s quiet and unassuming leadership. Sarasota’s loss won’t have the possibility of spending time in our beautiful, sparkling, fresh fallen snow at Butch’s home, nor will you be able to enjoy the season with the Christmas Wonderland open house at Wilmer’s home at 302 Park St., Ontario. 

The library has their Christmas holiday bake and craft sale Friday, Dec. 8, at the Ontario Public Library, 313 Main St., from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Christmas Wonderland is Friday, Dec. 8, from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, and from 1–7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10.

A Christmas tea is Friday, Dec. 15, from 2–4 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 16, from 3–5 p.m. at Butch’s home. Please call for reservations at (608) 337-4432. All of these events will help to support the Ontario Public Library. So please support this great endeavor.

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