Red Oak's Christmas in the Country reopens, keeps loved one's memory alive

Published: Dec. 25, 2019 at 11:51 AM CST
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In 2018, the annual "Christmas In The Country" celebration in Red Oak, Illinois was canceled.

Rod Quies, the lead organizer,

, Paula A. (Quies) Moring, last year after a battle with incurable cancer.

One year later, Quies and family members decided it was time to bring back the two-decade tradition.

"It is a struggle, but I have to do it for her (Paula) and for the children," says Quies.

Quies celebrates 20 years of dressing up as Santa Claus for his annual "Christmas in the Country" celebration. But this year was different after coming off a one-year hiatus.

"I tossed it around, and I tossed it around, and after 19 years, the lights were really bad and got pushed around over the year, due to the circumstances."

Last year, Rod and his family took a break from the annual display to spend precious time with Paula as she waged a battle against cancer. She lost that fight just a few weeks before Christmas.

"She wanted me to do it last year, but I would not have changed it," says Quies. "I spent all of the time I possibly could with her to where I can do this again this year."

The Quies family knew Paula would want them to continue the yearly tradition.

"Putting up her lights without her smile, her laugh, always making jokes," says Steve Pirrello, the grandson of Quies. "Her new suggestions every year of where to put things or how to do things, it's different not having those inputs."

Paula's Christmas spirit continues to spread. Putting smiles on those who love and miss her, as well as a new generation of Christmas fans.

"We wanted to come back with a bang," says Pirrello. "We wanted to make sure we were putting in the extra smiles on the kids faces. We want to let people know to cherish the love and to provide the love that you have and to never take any circumstances for granted."

"The thrill of seeing them happy gives me the courage to keep it going and do what I can for them," says Quies. "Because they love it."

If you would like to attend Christmas in the Country, you can visit from dusk to 10 p.m. every day until January 1.

For more information on the celebration,