Andes woman brings holiday spirit to veterans' headstones


By Julia Green
More than holiday 200 wreaths were laid at the headstones of veterans in three Andes cemeteries last weekend as an Andes committee, led by Carol Tubbs, participated in a observance that mirrors a much larger movement.
Tubbs, as well as a number of Andes residents and a community service group from Andes Central School, laid the wreaths by the headstones Saturday morning to honor veterans in a ritual that happens nationwide on a much larger scale.
One of the headstones now adorned with a holiday wreath is that of Tubbs’ husband, Donald, a Korean War veteran of the United States Air Force.
“It was a big success, it really and truly was,” Tubbs said. “Those that were involved and those that helped said it was really great, and it looks great, and it does. It looks very, very nice.”
The tradition of laying wreaths began in 1992, when the Harrington, Maine-based Worcester Wreath Company began placing wreaths on headstones at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., during the holiday season. The ritual has since spread, and Wreaths Across America was officially created in 2006. Last year, 286 locations across the United States hosted ceremonies to place more than 32,500 wreaths on the graves of fallen heroes.
Last Christmas, Tubbs’ sister extended an invitation for her to travel to Arlington to participate in the wreath-laying program, during which approximately 3,000 people laid out 10,000 wreaths.
“My sister just called me up and said, ‘This is what I’m going to do, are you interested?’ and I said ‘Sure,’ just for something different to do,” Tubbs said. “So we took the train down and when I saw it, I thought it was so beautiful that I decided to do it up here. There were all kinds of people, even little kids, with wreaths bigger than they were.”
The fund-raising element of the project began during the spring, when Tubbs placed canisters at a number of area establishments to collect funds for the project, including Hogan’s General Store, Woodies Country Kitchen, The Slow Down Café, The Tremperskill Country Store, the Andes Hotel and Cantina.
“The fund-raising jars worked out very well, and we had a chicken and biscuit dinner with a free well offering just before Thanksgiving,” Tubbs said. “We made just enough money to cover the whole thing with a little bit left over.”
The funds went to purchasing the wreaths, which Tubbs secured from Price Chopper in Delhi at a discount. A group of volunteers joined forces at the firehall to make bows to adorn the wreaths before Thanksgiving.
“I hope we can do it again next year, but I don’t know, we’ll just have to see how it goes,” Tubbs said. “Everybody says we ought to do it again next year, but I don’t know whether people will donate again for it because you need a lot of money. You need at least close to $2,300. But it would be nice.”