By Julie Muhlstein Herald Writer
EVERETT — Tina Oiness and her son, Garrett, put the finishing touches on a Christmas tree with a “Southern Holiday” theme.
With lush-looking fabric magnolias and a color scheme of lime green, ivory and a touch of pink, their creation was ready Monday for its debut at the Festival of Trees.
“Southern Holiday” is one of 17 large trees, three smaller ones, and five wreaths wowing crowds and lighting up Comcast Arena’s Edward D. Hansen Conference Center this week.
Sponsored by the Providence General Foundation, the annual Festival of Trees raises thousands of dollars to support Children’s Services at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.
“Holly Jolly Christmas” is the 2013 festival theme. The event brings in donations large and small through its opening night and silent auction, gala dinner and tree auction, teddy bear breakfast and a community open house.
For the first time this year, the free public open house is held on a weekend. It is scheduled for 1-6 p.m. Saturday, and will include live music, cocoa and cookies, pictures with Santa, and an opportunity to see those gorgeous trees.
Opening night was Tuesday, the gala was Thursday, and the sold-out breakfast is to be held Saturday.
Oiness, who owns Craft Mart in the Marysville Town Center mall, said Monday it was her fourth year designing a tree, this one sponsored by The Everett Clinic. Some trees are sold to bidders at the gala. Others are donated by sponsors to Providence Children’s Services facilities for display during the holidays.
Designers donate their time, and work within a budget set by the foundation to create the trees, which are all artificial with white lights.
“Disney Delight” is an eye-catching tree decked out with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Pluto and other Disney characters. The tree, sponsored by Western Washington Medical Group, will be donated to the Children’s Center at the Providence Pavilion for Women &Children in Everett. That facility serves children with special needs.
Christie Tipton, manager of the Children’s Center, said toys from the Disney tree are destined for wonderful homes. “We are having a party for our kids with special needs Dec. 18. Gifts for the kids are coming off that tree,” Tipton said.
The Children’s Center is one of 16 hospital-based neurodevelopmental centers in Washington serving children with special needs. Services begin in the Providence neonatal intensive care unit and continue, mostly through outpatient services, until children turn 18.
Tina Gilson, the Providence General Foundation’s director of annual giving, said the Festival of Trees has raised $650,000 to $680,000 each year. Most of that sum is raised at the gala, Gilson said.
One goal of this year’s gala, during fund-a-need bidding, was to raise money for autism programs. “We have been running an autism diagnostic center for a year and a half,” Tipton said. Donations received this year will help expand those services.
“We want to be able to provide an intensive treatment program for kids 3 to 6, and education to help parents become more confident and competent in working with their child who has autism,” Tipton said.
On Monday, the festival’s decorating day, designers were making magic. Beginning with prelit green trees, they used ribbons, ornaments, extra lighting, toys and other accessories to make each tree distinct.
Kathy Duffy and Kathy Schnell are co-managers of the Providence Everett Healthcare Clinic. Now housed at Everett Community College, the clinic serves uninsured and under-insured patients and those on Medicaid and Medicare.
A tree called “Be a Good Monkey,” covered with stuffed sock monkeys, was designed and sponsored by Dr. William Dickinson, a Providence physician specializing in addiction treatment. “He loves the Festival of Trees,” said Gilson, adding that Dickinson has a goal of raising $100,000 for the foundation over the years.
Not all the trees are glitzy. Roel Ventura worked Monday on one called “Natural Elegance,” sponsored by the Ambius company. Ornaments on his understated tree are long pine cones he picked off the ground. “It gives the feeling of being outdoors,” Ventura said.
Other trees appeal to specific tastes, including a Husky-Cougar tree designed by Stadium Flowers.
Once the festival is over, how will those trees get to where they’re going? Susie Black, the event contractor, said that Sunday morning, trees will be wrapped — with their decor in place — and delivered “door to door” by volunteers from Everett’s Hogland Transfer Company. Black said it takes about 300 volunteers to make the festival happen each year.
“This really is a volunteer-run event,” Gilson said.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Festival of Trees
The Providence General Foundation’s Festival of Trees includes a free community open house 1-6 p.m. Saturday in the Edward D. Hansen Conference Center at Comcast Arena, 2000 Hewitt Ave., Everett. Event includes live entertainment, children’s crafts, cookies, cocoa and coffee. Families may purchase pictures with Santa or bring cameras to take free pictures. Donations support Children’s Services at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.