DECATUR—Former Mayor Mike McElroy is often described as ‘larger than life’ by his friends and loved ones, and this year his spirit will live on 130 feet in the air above St. Mary’s Hospital.
McElroy was honored with the first light on St. Mary’s Christmas Star when it was lit for the first time on Tuesday night.
“We spent every Christmas at Mike’s house, every year we were there, and this year we won’t get to do that,” McElroy’s brother Tim said. “It will be special this year to be able to drive by the hospital and think of my brother.”
The 24 foot tall star has been lit above the hospital for 17 years after being purchased by the late Dr. John White in 1998.
This year, the St. Mary’s Foundation decided to let people purchase a light in honor of a loved one whom they have lost with the goal of raising $25,000 for the hospital.
Foundation Director Debbie Seitz said the foundation had passed that amount, “This is a great way to raise money for the hospital but to also allow someone to honor someone they had lost.” The Foundation has raised over $30,000 this year from the light donations.
“I’ve only been in the community for a year and a half and I know this means a lot to our hospital and the community,” HSHS St. Mary’s President Dan Perryman said. “The support we get from the community is great and this is a way we can give back a little bit.”
The star will be raised above the hospital throughout the Christmas season and can be seen best off of Lake Shore Drive or across Lake Decatur.