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Give thanks for marshmallows and art

Happy Thanksgiving.

As you are reading this, I am probably knee deep in sweet potatoes and stuffing, preparing for my family’s holiday feast.

And I am grateful. Grateful for the opportunity to spend time with my family. Grateful for being able to share the time with my parents and children at the same table. Grateful for the roof over our heads. Grateful the food on our table. And grateful the family tradition of a miniature marshmallow fight in the middle of our kitchen.

Although much of the holiday is serious as we give thanks for the blessings in our lives, my family celebration wouldn’t be complete without a little levity.

The annual battle began years ago when I was a child eager to help my mom prepare the Thanksgiving dinner. My task was putting mini marshmallows on the sweet potatoes. I don’t know who threw the first volley. It really doesn’t matter. A tradition was born and it continues to this day. The whole family gets in on the act. Smiles and giggles ensue.

This year, marshmallows aside, I have much to be grateful for. Among the blessings I count are the many friends I have made in Boulder City the past 12 months.

I was reminded of these newly forged friendships Friday night during Boulder City Public Art Scape’s Taste for the Arts gala. It was the first event in town I attended last year. My head was spinning by the end of the evening trying to remember names as I met many of the town’s residents and ardent supporters of the arts.

But one name stands out: Burk.

Darlene Burk and her husband, Vern, were two of the first people I met after becoming editor. Not only did they smooth the path and introduce me to many people in Boulder City, they welcomed me with open arms and truly embody the spirit of “Be Kind, Be Boulder.”

That spirit of friendship and generosity isn’t lost on the community. You could see that at the gala.

As the Boulder City Public Art Scape begins winding down its efforts, the Burks, the driving force behind the project, were honored for all they have done to improve people’s appreciation for the arts and the aesthetics of downtown.

“It brings a lot of joy and happiness,” Darlene told me Tuesday morning about the Public Art Scape project after recuperating from the gala. “It reminds me a lot of the friends we have made through the arts.”

She said helping create the Public Art Scape brought her closer to the community and the people who work in it.

With tears in her eyes, Darlene expressed her gratitude for those who joined her as board members, the artists who gave so freely of their talents and city staff members who helped her place and find permanent homes for the sculptures.

“It gave me new appreciation of their jobs,” she said. “I smile when I think how the whole thing has gone and the cooperation from everyone.”

Health issues are catching up to the Burks, who don’t have the time or energy needed to keep the project running at full speed, she said.

Even though Friday’s gala was the final fall festival, Darlene said they raised about $18,000, enough to bring in new sculptures for the next two years and possibly buy one or two pieces.

But she feels they have accomplished their primary goals of beautifying the downtown area and giving a boost to local merchants by offering a reason for people to visit Boulder City.

“To see a child kissing that frog or sitting on the pig brings me such joy,” Darlene said.

With that, I have to agree.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t see someone stopping to admire — or take a photograph of — the many statues sprinkled throughout the downtown area.

It’s one of the things I love about being a part of Boulder City, and it’s something I give thanks for — today and every day.

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