By Vickie Creamer/David Meade
Whether you know her as Mrs. Lollis, Mrs. Lawless or Mrs. Claus, Dianne Lollis is well known for her countless hours of volunteer services in the Town of Williamston as well as the Town of Pelzer. She is involved in many area organizations and events: July 4th celebrations, Boo in the Park, Spring Water Festival, Christmas Park, Pelzer Fall Festival and others. She has been instrumental in Williamston’s Park committee and currently serves as President of the Pelzer Heritage Commission.
It is doubtful that most people realize the amount of time and effort Lollis has put into coordinating and organizing these special events. When word went out ten years ago that the town was broke and volunteers were needed to keep the Spring Water Festival going, Dianne was there.
She organized the displays and under her the number of vendors increased to more than 70, stretching from one end of the park to the other.
When the Spring Water Festival was over, and the newly reorganized Springwater Committee was faced with the task of decorating Mineral Spring Park for the Christmas season, Dianne stepped in to coordinate it.
In addition to lining up entertainment, coffee and hot chocolate, she was in charge of making sure Santa Claus was available in the Scout Hut to visit with the children, and if it was cold, ensuring the fire logs were on.
At that time, the Scout Hut was in disrepair. There were holes in the floor, leaks in the ceiling and other problems. Dianne headed an effort with the Williamston Area Historic Commission to get the hut back into shape. It is a special place for her. Two of her Great Uncles actually helped build the hut.
She has fond memories of visiting Santa there as a child, and also of taking her son, Eran there when he was young.
That is why she does it, for the children.
For 14 years Dianne has enjoyed organizing the Christmas Park and serving in the role of Mrs. Claus.
Dianne recalled a particularly memorable moment that occurrred one Christmas as she served as Mrs. Claus.
A little girl, Kerri Beth West, came up to her one night in the hut to show her a cloth pocketbook that someone had made for her out of Christmas material. She was so proud of that pocketbook. She insisted that Mrs. Claus take it and she would not leave until she gave it to her. Dianne has always kept that pocketbook.
She remembers that Christmas when the town was broke. New displays could not be purchased for the park, and some were in very poor condition.
Dianne stood with that pocketbook open and collected donations as folks rode thru the park during the holidays. She collected enough money to purchase some new decorations for the park the following year.
She also went to businesses throughout the area and asked them if they would be willing to set up a display in the park each year. She received a great response and that tradition continues today.
Without the participation of area citizens, churches and organizations, the Christmas Park would not be as beautiful as it is each year, she said.
Many new lighted displays have been added, and improvements made over the years.
A lot has been done with funds from the Spring Water Festival. A lot has been done through fundraisers Dianne, with the help of others, have organized.
There have been pageants and singings.
Funds from pictures with Santa have also helped.
The mural in the office at town hall and on the Bethlehem building in the park were paid for with some of these funds.
Dianne commissioned Dacusville artist Jendi Lindsay to handpaint the murals.
The mini Christmas village at the entrance to the park was also one of her projects, coordinated with help from students in the building and construction class at the Career and Technology Center.
In conjunction with the town and police department and with help from Cedar Grove Elementary and a local motorcycle club, Lollis has coordinated gathering Christmas presents for area families who needed help.
“I don’t do it for the praise,” she said. “Most of time when you are doing things you’ve got to have people to help,” Lollis said. “Basically I like to see things get done. And I don’t like somebody telling me how to do it.”
Anybody who has worked with her knows this is true.
The Town of Williamston has also been very instrumental in decorating the park each year.
Town employees help by placing displays and lights throughout the park. Of course Dianne tells them where everything should go, and sometimes tells them twice if she doesn’t like where it is the first time.
Along with the Christmas Park is “Deck the Halls” in the Municipal Center. Mayor Phillip Clardy started the tradition while he was in office. It is a beautiful display of decorated Christmas trees by business and individuals in the Town of Williamston.
Dianne and others have taken over the responsibility of overseeing that the halls are decorated for the holidays.
This year Tim Gentry coordinated the Christmas Park. Debbie Chapman coordinated Deck the Halls.
Dianne decided it was time to give up the Santa Hut and all that goes along with decorating the park. She is older now, and the physical demands are too much for her at this point in her life, she said.
In September of 2013, Willie and Dianne’s only son, Eran passed away.
Dianne admitted that the park with all of its busyness, was such a blessing to her during that time. It helped her to keep her sanity when she felt her world had fallen apart.
She said she plans to continue to help with the Spring Water Festival, Boo in the Park, and Pelzer Fall Festival.
“I just like to stay busy,” she said. “I like to get things done. In the park it is for the children. In Pelzer it is where I was born and raised. The people never had much,” Dianne said.
“I like to see things get done that people will get some good, some enjoyment out of. I don’t want praise for myself. I just hope somebody gets some joy out of it.”
“It is always for the children,” she said. “It really gives me a lot of pleasure.”
Note: The Journal just wanted to say “Thank You” to Dianne for your many years of service, countless hours of donated time, numerous hours spent on the phone and miles of travel put on your vehicle . . . on your own dime. It is because of your dedication, with the assistance of many other helpers, that families and children from all over can still enjoy the Christmas Lights at the park each year.