New Tree Lighting Chairperson, Phyllis Mueller. Photo by Marshall Smith

Phyllis Mueller, often known as Mayor Max’s spokesperson, agreed to take overall responsibility for coordinating and producing the Idyllwild’s annual Tree Lighting ceremony. Long-time event managers Marge Muir and Karen Doshier have agreed to help the novice tree lighter.


After less than a week on this volunteer job, Mueller reports that everything is in progress and all but the program committee chair is filled. Mueller will handle public relations, fundraising and marketing materials; Muir will manage Santa events; Doshier, facilities, permits and bookkeeping; Bryan Tallent and John Stonitsch, co-owners of the Spruce Moose, will manage vendor booths.

Mueller was sought for this position because of her business acumen, experience producing events and marketing campaigns, and because of her demonstrated commitment to promoting Idyllwild for the benefit of all who live and operate businesses here. As an example of how Mueller executes, she has already contracted for the dates the lights are both strung on the tree and the date they are removed.

Since accepting the position, she has conducted a listening campaign to receive input from previous event participants. Mueller wants to hear what has worked and what has needed improvement. She plans to conduct a review at the end of the event to be used as a guideline for future ceremonies.

The Idyllwild Chamber of Commerce had agreed last spring to produce the event, but recently announced it could not do so because of pending legal issues. With a little over one month left to stage an event that usually take five months to prepare, Mueller’s marketing and planning expertise is filling the unexpected void.

She is striving to sustain this much-anticipated and iconic Idyllwild holiday extravaganza. And with enthusiasm, even with only a month to go, Mueller is looking at ways to expand and improve the event, such as groups of carolers strolling throughout the village core prior to the event and marketing the event to many off-Hill contacts.

“Everything will be set in a meeting on Tuesday [Oct. 16],” said Mueller, noting that it was necessary to have agreement on job responsibilities for each chairperson by that date. “We’ll confirm who is taking over committees and what their agreed job duties are.”

Mueller is meeting with village storekeepers to secure their agreement to stay open during the festival. “I’m asking them to keep their stores open if they can and to donate to support the event,” she said.

She is CEO of her own company, Mueller Worldwide, and a recent full-time Hill resident with husband Glenn Warren. Mueller and Warren’s firm creates marketing and branding campaigns for major international companies including 3Com Corporation (part of Hewlett Packard), 3M Company, AT&T, FedEx, Lucent and Porsche.