Santa 2016One sign each year that Christmas is almost upon us is the annual Cheer Up the Blues event at Perry Wellness Center. Begun almost two decades ago by center founder and CEO Stuart Perry as a street corner celebration, the even has grown to become a large and festive open house, complete with Santa, music, goodies, and market tours.

On December 15, the campus again welcomed visitors, peers, and staff to an evening of fellowship and Christmas celebration. Stuart welcomed visitors to an expanded Rudy’s Happy Patch Market and showed off the newly enclosed market area. Santa sat patiently for rounds of photos with visiting children, while adults nibbled on food samples, including seafood, cheeses, and Stripling food products now carried by the market. Seasonal music played throughout the evening as visitors checked out the market offerings and chatted with friends. One market focal point for visitors was the showcasing of its recent first place float entry in the downtown Americus Christmas parade. The Polar Bear Express enchanted children and adults alike. Before they left, visitors were invited to visit the center’s cafeteria for bowls of its award-winning vegetable soup – the perfect ending for a cool December evening.

Stuart was pleased with the large turnout and enthusiasm, saying, “We welcomed longtime supporters and new customers to our market. It was a great evening, and we must have had a record crowd.”

Stuart was happy to welcome market customers who had not yet learned of new market offerings. “One customer said they would include Happy Patch Market in their routine shopping experience,” he noted. “I like the increased discovery of our market.” Ever the natural salesman, Stuart got into the spirit with his showing of new inventory at the market, including, for the first time, meat and seafood items.

Most of all, Stuart and the Perry Wellness Center family were pleased with the showing of community support in the beaming faces that shared Christmas wishes with Santa, sampled market wares, or chatted with a helpful peer. Cheer Up the Blues was established to increase public awareness about mental illness, including seasonal depression. The well-attended event and Perry Wellness Center itself stand as evidence that, more and more, the message has been heard.

 Pictured above are, left to right: Amanda Perry, Santa, Pam Perry, and Lavonya Stewart.

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