I hope you’ll indulge me today. This could be a long post…. I hope you’ll bear with me. This is a topic that’s dear to my heart.
Let me start off by saying that taking my Mom to the Festival of Trees today takes me back to many years ago when it all began.
My Mom was one of the original board members for the Festival of Trees back in 1970 when they first started. I remember it well. I was in high school when this new venture started as a fund raiser for Primary Children’s Hospital. For those of you that don’t know what it is…. this is an event where people donate time and money to decorate a Christmas tree (and now many other things as well….) and then other people are invited to an evening of auctioning where they bid on the trees. The highest bidder, of course, wins the tree (or other item). All of the proceeds are donated to Primary Children’s Hospital. The trees then go on display to the public for 4 days before the winning bidder is allowed to take his prize home. A small fee is charged to the public to come look at the trees, which is an additional source of fund raising money for the cause.
The Festival has grown huge over the last 40 years. It literally takes thousands of man hours and volunteers to pull it all off. The current committee is run by several women, (I honestly don’t know how many anymore!) who then head other committees all over the valley that they are in charge of. It pretty much takes the whole year to plan to make sure it all runs smoothly.
Back in 1970, when it first began, it started off rather small. My Mom was one of the original board members of what she thinks was 13 women. The first year it was held in one of the buildings of the Salt Lake Armory. The next year it had gained in popularity and added more trees in the second Armory building. Within the next few years, it had become so popular that it had to move to the Salt Palace Convention Center in downtown Salt Lake. It was there for many years and just kept expanding into more of the convention center. Each year there were more people wanting to donate something for the cause. Several years ago, it moved to the South Towne Center in Sandy, Utah. I think the committee felt that was a more central location for the people all over the state that want to come see it. Also…. parking was free and little more convenient.
The gift shop and the sweet shop came early on and they continued to add other features over the years. Now, besides trees, (of all sizes,) there are many more things donated for auction including, table decorations, crafts, art, quilts, door wreaths, and ginger bread houses and more. The creativity that goes into the auctioned items never ceases to amaze me.
My Mom was always in charge of the entertainment when she was on the committee. It took a lot of hours to fill up those spots. Especially in the early years when people were still just learning about it. Even now…. the entertainment committee spends hours lining things up for the multiple stages to perform on.
It meant a lot to my Mom to be able to attend today and see what it has turned into over the years. There is still one board member currently involved that started getting involved as a teenager years ago when my Mom was on the committee. Sharon Goodrich has been instrumental in making sure that my Mom still receives her invitation to the opening Lights On ceremony.
Last year when I decided to have my Mom’s care center bring her in so that I could meet her there and take her around to see the trees, we made a point of finding Sharon to say Hi. Sharon was so thrilled to have my Mom there that she had me bring her back into the area of the building where the board members have an area set up for them to continue on with all the work that needs to be done during the Festival. Sharon gathered the board members around and introduced my Mom as one of the original board members and they made such a fuss over her! They were so excited to meet her and thanked her profusely for being a part of getting such a wonderful cause started. They gathered around her and we took pictures of her with them.
It meant so much to my Mom to feel appreciated and loved. So much so that she wanted more of it this year…… she wouldn’t let us leave the Festival today until we found Sharon and the board members to say “Hi” again. Once again, they made a fuss over her and took pictures with her. It really made her day. My husband mentioned how nice it was to see her face light up as she was talking with those wonderful women.
Next month my Mom turns 90 years old. I told Sharon today that if she’s still around, that we would make an effort to try and get her into the Lights On ceremony next year. Mom wants her kids and their spouses to all attend if we can. My sisters and I all worked at the Festival of Trees as Hostesses for many years. It would thrill Mom to death if we could all be there with her.
I’m so grateful to those wonderful women for fussing over Mom again like they did. I’m so grateful that Mom was a part of the beginning of something so wonderful that has become a community favorite at Christmas time and raises a lot of money for Primary Children’s Hospital.
I’m glad Mom felt good enough to attend again this year and that it got her Christmas season off to a great start! Thanks to all of you wonderful people who have kept the Festival of Trees going for over 40 years now!
I am Grateful! How are You?
Below are some pictures from the Festival of Trees that I took today. You name it….. they put it on a tree! If you want ideas for how to decorate a Christmas tree….. you can’t find a better place!
This barely touches the iceberg of what was there today! Try and get there if you can!! It ends tomorrow, Dec 3rd. If you can’t make ti this year……. there’s always next year!