THE DOWNTOWN OWOSSO Christmas tree has been a central part of Owosso tradition for quite awhile, but this year it may have become far more meaningful. Shar Haskins stepped forward with a large donation of $12,000, contributed in honor of her late father, Joe Merkel. The donation has now been used to enlarge the iconic Christmas tree on the corner of Main and Washington streets. The tree will stand three-feet taller, with an additional six-foot to be added next year, since part of it was back-ordered.
Many area members recall Joe Merkel (previous owner of Jumbo’s) and his passion for supporting the Owosso community. Haskins wanted to exemplify that passion through this donation. “He did a lot of things for a lot of people. That was my Dad. He helped a lot of individuals. This was something to honor him. He taught us all to be very giving, with the community, with church, with individuals,” she earnestly shared. “No matter what you do, it will help. Owosso has given a lot to our family. It has truly helped our family grow and taught us how to work. We all enjoy Owosso.”
Joe Merkel passed away in 2015. Shar Haskins continued operating Jumbo’s Burger Bar until she sold it to Todd and Shelly Sydow in 2016. Today, Haskins is very much following her father’s example through her community support and humanitarianism.
Shown piecing the enormous tree together on Monday, Nov. 20 are John Hankerd (tree top), volunteer Richard Lowe (left) and DDA/OMS manager Josh Adams (right). A group from Owosso’s Lincoln High School helped out in the morning. The Owosso Robotics Club assisted in the afternoon.
The tree will be up, centrally located on the busy corner, throughout the holidays.
(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)