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Party in the Park is Friday at Holy Rosary in DL

For 18 years, Oak Crossing has hosted Party in the Park, an event that lends a helping hand to seniors of the St. Mary's Nursing Center, their friends and relatives.

Everyone in the community is invited to the annual event that will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, July 16, in Holy Rosary.

Although it's called "Party in the Park" it's no longer held outdoors due to the unreliable weather, said organizer Ruth Renier.

But that doesn't stop it from being a fun gathering with plenty of entertainment, food and good company.

Music entertainment will include "Front Row," "Off the Wall," and "The Ding A Lings," each taking turns performing every hour.

Area merchants have helped the organization out by donating some food items that will include chips, pie, ice cream and beverages. St. Mary's Hospital is also cooking some of the food that will be served. Each meal costs $5.

Proceeds from Party in the Park over the years have helped the nursing center become a "happy place" for residents, Renier said.

"It's not for the room or board, not for their meals, it's to make their lives better," she added.

The money has been used to buy TVs, music players, an aquarium and most recently, a chapel that was built on the top level.

Because many of the residents moved to the area to be close to family and therefore are new to the community, nearby church services were necessary for those unable to go out and go to church, Renier said.

Full-time chaplain Tim Cook, conducts regularly scheduled services there, while other local ministers hold bible studies on various nights of the week.

Party in the Park will celebrate the chapel, which was completed about two months ago, at Party in the Park. Other events planned include a raffle for a quilt made by a nursing home resident, with the stitches done by First Lutheran Church women.

Attendees will also be able to find good deals on jewelry and cookbooks donated by residents and community members.

"I guess the whole community is sort of behind this," Renier said.

Renier, who has been helping coordinate the event since it first began 18 years ago, said about 400 people are expected to attend.

"It's a big affair," she said.