Shining Star: Patrick McLaughlin wants to make visits to Nutcracker Village unforgettable

A local man, quite literally, helps make the season bright for his neighbors and beyond.

A local man, quite literally, helps make the season bright for his neighbors and beyond.

He’s Steubenville native Patrick McLaughlin, a beloved and devoted volunteer at Steubenville's Nutcracker Village and Historic Fort Steuben.

As the holiday display grows, along with the village’s popularity, so too does McLaughlin’s heart.

“Patrick has been a stalwart,” said Jerry Barilla, president of Historic Fort Steuben. “He's one of the few people that consistently comes here and physically stays outside. No matter what the weather is.”

About 6 years ago, McLaughlin went to Barilla asking to help.

“I said, ‘Patrick when you are here, you now are ‘The Fort.’ You no longer have your name Patrick McLaughlin. You are now ‘Fort Steuben,’ and everything you say and do reflects not on you, but on this facility," Barilla said.

“It made me realize how important it was to be a part of this great city we all live in,” Patrick said.

There's a twinkle in his eye that matches the lights he strolls through on a nightly basis. It's clear that Patrick puts a high priority on his volunteer work.

“I come down in the morning and get the nativity opened up, check the restrooms and get them opened up. Then I just do a quick walkthrough and make sure there's nothing out of the ordinary. Then I got to work when I'm done working, I go home get cleaned up, get something to eat, then I come back down usually here till about 8-9 o’clock,” Patrick said.

On top of working a full-time job, he is dedicated to his duties at The Fort/Nutcracker Village, which include making sure no one misses out on a photo opp.

“I want to make sure that when they leave here, they leave with a total family photo that they can hang on the wall for many years to come,” Patrick said.

Seeing snapshots of memories being made is the best part, he says.

“Just to see the joy of everybody's faces, the little kids yelling ‘hey pap, or grandma, come look at this one, this one is my favorite,’ ya know, it's just a blessing; it really is,” Patrick said.

He’s proud of the city he calls his home, and a display he considers his own.

“I don't put a Christmas tree up,” Patrick said. “I haven't for the last 3 years. People say,’ you put a tree up?’ I say, ‘yeah, a 30-footer and a 25-footer,’ so these are my trees. There's a lot of hard work that goes into these trees. We had a volunteer, Dan Carol, who did a lot of work to these trees. And he just had brain surgery, so my prayers go out to him -- you're missed. He's put a lot of effort in down here as well.”

It’s a festive family of volunteers that keep things running smoothly for the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

“We all worry about each other and we all take care of each other and that's the most important thing,” Patrick said.

This week, a true Shining Star, proving you don’t have to be paid to have passion.

“I consider myself the richest man in the world,” Patrick said. “I've had so many memories. Just the friends I have met during the festivals. The memories. I'm the richest man in the world.”

if you know someone, like Patrick, volunteering to make a difference in your community. Let us know here.

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