RHINELANDER - Parents shouldn't be the ones to bury their children. When it does happen, families rely on the little things to help them get by.
But this spring, a Rhinelander family lost the main connection they have to their son who died far too young.
Dean Mueller passed away in an accident in 1997. He was just 9 years old. For 15 years, the Mueller family has placed a small Christmas tree at Dean's grave.
Every year, the family would add sentimental ornaments and trinkets to the tree in his memory.
But this spring, that tree disappeared. Dean's mother Tammy says it happened after the cemetery announced its spring clean up. . Families had until early last week to collect the things they placed by the graves.
"Yes, they did give us an extra month to get those items off, but my husband went on Tuesday and it was gone," Mueller said. "They said to check by the shed and nothing was there."
The Parks and Cemetery director feels badly, but doesn't see it as his department's fault. Gunder Paulsen wouldn't speak to us on camera, but he did explain families clearly understand the rules.
Winter decorations can stay up from December 1st through April 1st. Then new decorations can go back up May 1st.
This year was a little different with all the snow we had. Paulsen said his crews waited until the last two days of April to do their cleanup.
Tammy Mueller just wants her son's tree back.
"It means a lot," Mueller said. "That was his. It's something we can't give him anymore. Something that he's had for 15 years and 16 in November.
We can't replace it, we can't replace the ornaments."
Mueller says the staff told her they moved it near this shed, but that's the last anyone saw it.
The Parks and Cemetery director did tell Newswatch 12 he's very sorry and is not trying to be a monster, but this kind of thing can happen from time to time.
Tammy says she'd take the tree back, no questions asked.
MERRILL - Most people enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner with family. But the Merrill firefighters spend their Thanksgiving at the station with their second family, their coworkers. Community members stepped in to make sure the firefighters still had a special Thanksgiving while they were working.
It might be Thanksgiving, but for the Merrill Fire Department, it's just another day
But it is a day with more turkey, stuffing, and pies.
"We had a couple of community organizations that dropped off meals for us which we're definitely grateful for," said firefighter and paramedic Bryson Cruise.
The job doesn't stop for firefighters and Thanksgiving is no exception.
So Park City Credit Union and Hands of Hope wanted to thank the firefighters for their service with a home cooked Thanksgiving meal.
PARK FALLS - Many families began their Thanksgiving Day with a run this morning. Topping off the holiday with a "trot" around town may not appeal to everyone, but for these families it was a way to spend time with one another.
"Trot now so we can pie later," said Steph Schultz, a runner in the Park Falls Turkey Trot.
Families used the Turkey Trot 5K in Park Falls as a way to bond.
RHINELANDER - Nineteen months ago, 10 police agencies surrounded the Tripoli home of Kenneth Welsh.
Police say Welsh caused a three-hour standoff, threatened to blow up his house, and threatened to kill his wife.
Later in court, he was convicted of two felonies and sentenced to three years in prison by Oneida County Judge Michael Bloom.
But now, those convictions and prison sentence have been erased. This month, while in prison, Welsh argued he didn't fully understand all the elements of one of the crimes to which he pleaded no contest, first-degree recklessly endangering safety. Welsh's motion put some of the blame on his defense attorney, Rod Streicher.
RHINELANDER - This holiday season, you might want to tell your child to hug family members at holiday gatherings.
The Girls Scouts of the USA hopes you won't. The organization is saying daughters don't owe anyone physical affection, and that the expectation of hugs and kisses could have bad aftereffects later in life.
"I think for some people, it is a new concept," said Melissa K., the domestic violence coordinator at Tri-County Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual assault, which is based in Rhinelander.
In a post, the Girl Scouts of the USA told parents their daughters don't "owe anyone a hug. Not even at the holidays."
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