Nov. 29 - Dec. 2
Is it possible for more than 700 trees to sprout from a 200,000 square foot concrete floor? It is if they are tended with the love of thousands of volunteers. These volunteers certainly do not "miss the forest for the trees" as they give time and money to ensure that needy children receive care at Primary Children's Medical Center.
The 36th annual Festival of Trees unwraps its "Gift of Love" Nov. 29 and runs through Dec. 2.
Just as the Christmas tree is a symbol of "everlasting life," each tree at the Festival is a symbol of a community's commitment to providing a better life for thousands of needy children.
LaRae Larsen, Pleasant Grove, has been decorating trees for the Festival for 31 years. She plans her trees four to five years in advance. This year, her tree will be set on a lightweight deck with a rocking chair. The tree will feature a swing and movable teeter-totter, along with hundreds of rag dolls of various sizes. The tree is dedicated to her daughter Theresa who spent five of her eight months of life at Primary Children's Medical Center. The tree is also dedicated to her 18-month-old granddaughter Saria, who has spent much of her young life at the hospital. Larsen is an example of the spirit of the Festival - remembering loved ones while celebrating the future of hope the hospital provides.
Also on display are centerpieces, wreaths, backyard playhouses, and a gingerbread village. Even the most stringent dieter can find an excuse to sample homemade fudge, divinity, scones, and sweet rolls. The Gift Boutique offers handmade gifts for the perfect present. The Festival also features live entertainment performed on two stages.
Children find much to do and see at the Festival. A popular stop is Santa Land where they meet Santa and have their pictures taken. At Kids' Korner children experience what it feels like to be inside a giant bubble. They can also "Dial-an-Elf," have their faces painted, and participate in many other activities. The Small Fry Shop carries items especially priced for a child's budget.
"No matter how often you attend the Festival of Trees, it is different every year," Festival chairwoman Edyth Hansen said. "What remains the same year after year is the magic you feel at the Festival and the 'gift of love' that is given to the children at the hospital."
Southern Utah communities feeling the magic of the Festival of Trees include areas surrounding Beaver, Milford, Manti, and Fairview. Carloads of gifts are made by the residents and transported to the Festival each year. The citizens of Beaver have become accustomed to the sight of Wes Robinson, senior Student Body President of Beaver High School. He has been seen driving his four-wheeler pulling a trailer filled with lumber.
Wes is building a playhouse for the Festival of TreesÃ¯Â¿Â½and has motivated the entire high school to participate. Robinson's playhouse will be complete with a nightstand and dresser crafted by the school's shop class; a quilt sewed by FCCLA students; ornaments created by metal shop class; and stockings for the fireplace designed by students at Beaver High School.
Every penny raised by the Festival of Trees goes directly to provide charity care at Primary Children's Medical Center. Because every item from paper to pinecones is donated, this event is a unique fundraiser. Last year alone, Primary Children's expended nearly $8 million to ensure that every child received medical care regardless of race, religion, or ability to pay.
The Festival is organized by an 80-member volunteer board which works throughout the year to orchestrate this four-day event. Assisting Hansen are Co-chairwomen: Leann Hansen, Sandy; Karen Robinson, West Jordan; and Ellie Wood, Fruit Heights.
Don't miss the forest for the trees this Holiday Season. Discount tickets are available at Zions Bank locations.