Festival of Trees will light up your holidays

Some are sophisticated, with black and silver or frosted white decorations.

Some are homespun, with burlap ornaments, pinecones and ribbons of red.

Some are sporty, one labeled “Husky Fever” and the other “Crimson and Gray.”

And some — with stuffed animals and other toys top to bottom — look like Santa himself did the decorating.

All are Christmas trees lit up and on display for the Providence General Foundation’s annual Festival of Trees. The festival holds its free Community Open House 1-6 p.m. Wednesday in the Orca Ballroom at Tulalip Resort Casino. The resort is a new home for the longtime fund-raiser, which supports children’s services at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.

The Festival of Trees began Tuesday with an opening night party and silent auction. A gala dinner and auction is scheduled for Thursday, and the annual Teddy Bear Breakfast is Saturday. Registration is now closed for those two events.

Today’s free open house is a chance for everyone to see the trees, enjoy refreshments, and hear holiday music performed by the Fairmount Elementary School Choir (1 p.m.), the Bothell High School Jazz Choir (2 p.m.), the Everett Chorale (3 p.m.), the Snohomish County Children’s Choir (4 p.m.) and the Camano Dance Academy (5 p.m.)

In all, the festival is expected to raise more than $650,000, said Tina Gilson, the foundation’s director of annual giving and communications.

At the gala, a special “fund-a-need” call for donations will benefit the new Providence Autism Center, which opened this summer in the Everett hospital’s Pavilion for Women and Children. Gilson said the festival usually raises more than $100,000 from fund-a-need donors.

Lori Kloes, the Providence General Foundation’s director of development, said the need is great. For its first five years, she said, the Autism Center needs $250,000 annually in operational support. The center, which serves children ages 2 to 5, also offers parent education. Kloes said she thinks of that support as “Autism 101.”

“It gives parents the opportunity to learn about the best ways to participate in the care of their child,” she said.

In the ballroom Monday, designers were putting final touches on more than 20 trees and wreaths. Some were sold in advance, some will be auctioned at the gala, and some will bring cheer to children needing hospital care over the holidays.

Gilson said the event was moved from its former downtown Everett venue “to accommodate more people.” After the festival, which draws about 3,000 people every year, trees will be delivered to their destinations by Everett’s Hogland Transfer Company.

A tree labeled “Charlie Brown and the Peanuts Gang,” sponsored by Western Washington Medical Group, is going to the Providence Children’s Center at the hospital’s Pacific campus. Young patients will get Snoopy or Charlie Brown stuffed toys or holiday books from the tree.

The Providence emergency department, on the Colby campus, will get the “Peppermint Panda” tree, sponsored by Botesch, Nash &Hall Architects. Kids visiting the emergency room will get stuffed panda toys.

In Arlington, another Christmas tree event will raise money for hospital programs.

The Cascade Valley Hospital Foundation’s Festival of Trees Gala and Auction will be held at the hospital starting at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $10. The public is welcome to see the decorated trees and wreaths at a free event 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday.

Earlier this year, a Cascade Valley Hospital Foundation fund helped people affected by the Oso mudslide. Proceeds from its Festival of Trees will boost programs at the Arlington hospital, and fund health education and screenings, said Jennifer Egger, community relations coordinator for Cascade Valley Hospital &Clinics.

On Friday, families are invited to the Arlington hospital from 5 to 7 p.m. for free pictures with Santa. And St. Nick won’t be the only celebrity. Egger said kids will also get to see Anna, the heroine of Disney’s “Frozen

When I was a girl, we put up our tree Christmas week. Now I’m a procrastinator because mine isn’t up in early December. With festivals aglow with tree-trimming perfection, there’s plenty of inspiration.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

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