Last Thursday, December 16, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., Perry Wellness Center and Rudy’s Happy Patch Market continued a favorite holiday season. At “Cheer Up the Blues,” a Christmas open house, the campus opened its doors to the community in celebration of the season. But the event also served as a reminder that the holidays can be a particularly difficult time for individuals with seasonal depression and other mental health problems. Cheer Up the Blues, as the name implies, offers the community a message of hope and support.
The tradition began two decades ago, with Perry Wellness Cente founder and CEO Stuart Perry serving as Santa Claus, dispensing hot beverages and treats on a busy Americus street corner. In recent years, Cheer Up the Blues has expanded to fill the center, market, and campus with hot chocolate and cider, fruit bags, live music, displays, and photos with Santa.
This year’s open house featured a special treat for children: an opportunity to meet characters from “Toy Story” and see the winning float from this year’s downtown Christmas parade. The colorful lights from the float lighted the east parking lot, where children gathered to meet their favorite movie characters, such as Buzz Lightyear and Woody.
“As a first place parade float winner for the fifth time, we wanted to bring the same festive Christmas display to our campus,” Perry said. “It was festive for all.”
Thurston Clary of WISK radio 98.7 also continued his tradition of providing a live remote at the event for area listeners who could not attend. He reminded those who tuned in, “We have done this for 22 years. Before Cheer Up the Blues was at this location, we set up at several different Perry Oil Company stations in Americus. It is a fun time for all who visit.”
After another year of a world pandemic, unity and hope are needed more than ever. Stuart explains, “This annual event is a time for celebration of the birth of Christ and a renewed beginning for many peers and anyone who embraces hope.”
In the photos, characters from the Perry Wellness Center annual parade float and Santa himself greet visitors at the wellness and recovery center’s annual Christmas open house.