Former Rock Falls alderman raises more than $1K to donate new Love Light Tree to city, Chamber

GoFundMe set up by Marshall Doane was fully funded in seven hours, still is open

Rock Falls Mayor Rod Kleckler thanks sponsors, supporters and the community during the lighting of the Lovelight Tree on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021.

ROCK FALLS – A former Rock Falls alderman wants to donate a new Love Light Tree to the city, along with hundreds of dollars to decorate it.

As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20, a GoFundMe account set up by Marshall Doane had raised $1,085 for a new Norwegian spruce tree. He said the goal was $600, which included $485 for the tree and $115 to transport and plant it, with plans for any leftover money to be donated to the city to buy holiday tree decorations.

“While initially, we planned for donations to slowly trickle in, we underestimated something, the love that citizens of Rock Falls have for this holiday tradition and the Love Light Ceremony therein,” Doane said during the Sept. 19 Rock Falls City Council meeting. “Within seven hours, this GoFundMe fundraiser was fully funded. The very next day, we saw more donations.”

The Love Light Tree is part of Rock Falls’ annual Hometown Holidays. During the Love Light Ceremony, memorial lights are displayed and names read as a way to remember lost loved ones.

The previous Love Light Tree, which was in poor condition, recently was removed and the space where it had been was paved.

Doane said that, prior to creating the GoFundMe, he and a friend reached out to the city administration to set up a meeting where they could get more information about the city’s plans for a new Love Light Tree. A tentative plan to meet has been set up, but they don’t yet have a date, he said.

“We hope the city of Rock Falls and Chamber [of Commerce] will accept this donation for a new tree and have it placed downtown in the park to be included in future Hometown Holiday events and the future Love Light Tree memorial ceremonies,” Doane told the City Council.

This year’s Love Light Ceremony is set for 6 p.m. Nov. 17, at the RB&W Park amphitheater, 201 E. Second St., Rock Falls.

An artificial tree is being used for this year’s event, and there’s no intention to try to change that, Doane said. However, he would like to see a live tree used in the future.

“The real tree is where the spirit is,” Doane said.

City Council members did not comment on the Love Light Tree or respond to Doane’s comments during the meeting.

Alexa Zoellner

Alexa Zoellner

Alexa Zoellner covers Ogle County for the Oregon Republican Reporter, Forreston Journal, Mt. Morris Times and Polo Tri-County Press. She has seven-plus years of experience in journalism and has won numerous awards, including a first place award for investigative reporting from the WNA.