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SWEET HOME — Christmas is more than a month away, but Sweet Home hosted a big holiday party Friday, complete with food, drink, music and a lighted parade featuring the Capitol Christmas Tree. 

And soon, 22 libraries in towns large and small along the Oregon Trail will receive early Christmas presents from the Sweet Home Public Library. 

Library Director Rose Peda said the community is sending a gift box — featuring Honeycrisp apples — to libraries scattered from Albany, Oregon, to Cincinnati, Ohio.

“Grandpa’s Farm in Albany has donated 22 boxes of Honeycrisp apples and we are sending the apples, a poster and two books to libraries in 22 towns along the tree route,” she said.

The books are Debra Hopkinson's “Apples to Oregon” and George Hallowell's “Wagons Ho.”

Peda said "Wagons Ho" will help children across the country imagine what it was like to travel on foot, horseback or in wagons, from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon.

“We are also sending a map of the tree route, program ideas and a poster,” she added.

Peda has been working on the project with Ron Feist of the U.S. Forest Service and her library assistant, Joy Kistner.

The first box of goodies didn’t have to travel far: It was sent to the Albany Public Library on Tuesday afternoon.

Children who visited the library’s booth at Friday's street fair in front of Sweet Home High School were invited to enjoy apples and help assemble a Conestoga wagon, Peda said. The event also featured about 40 food and craft vendors, live music and a lighted parade, followed by a program at the high school auditorium and a concert by the country music duo Cloverdayle. 

Peda sent emails to each of the libraries and noted:

"Something big is coming your way!

"We invite you to join us in celebrating the travels of the Capitol Christmas tree. The tree will be traveling along the Oregon Trail and your community is one of the scheduled Whistle Stops for the tree. We will be sending you two books to use for a story time, after school program or family program. ...

"We will also be sending you a box of apples from Grandpa’s Farm, a map of the Oregon Trail highlighting the tree route, some program ideas from Louisiana State Library, and a poster.

"Some of the program ideas include:

• Children plot the travels of the tree. You could ask them if they were to travel from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon what route would they travel?

• Having a discussion with the children about what they would have brought on the trail with them."

Sweet Home will also send a gift box to Sen. Ron Wyden's office in Washington, D.C. See the online version of this story for a complete list of recipients across the country.

Libraries that will receive gifts from Sweet Home include:

Nov. 10: Albany Public Library and Eugene Public Library.

Nov. 11: Oakridge Public Library

Nov. 12: City of Detroit

Nov. 13: Salem Public Library

Nov. 13: Oregon City Public Library and the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center

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Nov. 14: Cascade Locks Branch of the Hood River County Library District

Nov. 14: The Dalles-Wasco County Library

Nov. 14: Baker County Library District

Nov. 16: Marshall Public Library, Soda Springs, Idaho

Nov. 17: Uinta County Library, Evanston, Wyoming

Nov. 18: Laramie County Library, Laramie, Wyoming

Nov. 18: Lied Scottsbluff Public Library, Scottsbluff, Nebraska

Nov. 19: Morton-James Public Library, Nebraska City, Nebraska

Nov. 20: Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri

Nov. 21: Mid-Continent Public Library, Independence, Missouri

Nov. 22: St. Louis County Library. St. Louis, Missouri

Nov. 23: Harrison Branch, the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Ohio

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Contact Linn County reporter Alex Paul at 541-812-6114.

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