Bloomtown receives a cardboard homage

Todd Lilley, director of the Shenandoah Valley Westminster-Canterbury Foundation, greets walkers at the door as the Bloomtown mayor on Thursday. Max Lee/Daily
Laura Hager stands in front of the cardboard Bloomtown fire station that she built for Thursday's Westminster-Canterbury Breakfast Walk. Max Lee/Daily

WINCHESTER — Laura Hager has been making gifts and building signs for the Shenandoah Valley Westminster-Canterbury Breakfast Walk for 13 years. But with people finishing up their breakfasts on Thursday, Hager wasn’t thinking about past walks, or even the event in front of her.

“I’m already thinking about next year,” Hager said. “Thinking I’ve got to do this for next year, that for next year.”

In addition to serving as the resident concierge for the retirement community, Hager has made the Apple Blossom breakfast, which started at 8 a.m. Thursday, something of a pet project.

“This is kind of my baby,” Hager said.

This year, she made almost everything for the event. She made shirts to hand out to about 100 people as gifts. Following the “Bloomtown” theme of Apple Blossom, she built cardboard buildings of various spots in town.

The buildings included a fire station, “Bloom’s Beauty Bar,” a boat, a high school and a library. Staff members of Westminster-Canterbury, dressed in the requisite pink and green, acted as town members. Todd Lilley, the Shenandoah Valley Westminster-Canterbury Foundation director, acted the part of Bloomtown mayor, welcoming walkers into the building.

Hager said her work on the walk begins months before it starts.

“I usually start thinking about it after the theme announcement is made in November,” Hager said. “But then I have a big party the first weekend in January here, and then usually I start on it.”

Until the week of the walk, Hager also said she does almost all of the work at home.

“I take stuff home and then I bring stuff back, then I take stuff home, then I bring stuff back,” Hager said. “I’ve got a little workshop at home.”

Then, in the final week, all  staff members work with Hager to put the finishing preparations into the walk.

“Everybody here, they pitch in to help in the last couple of days, and you know, dress up, and the guys — from mowing grass to putting up the signs,” Hager said. “Lots and lots of hours go into it, to make our campus beautiful for visitors.”

Contact staff writer Max Lee at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or mlee@nvdaily.com

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