Holiday treats are just around the corner

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By Kirsten Laskey

Christmas trees? Now that is a sweet holiday treat. Add in chocolate and the event becomes an extravaganza.


Just such an event is being held starting Nov. 14 at the Betty Ehart Senior Center. The Chocolate Festival will be held at 7 p.m. In addition to sweet edible treats, the trees featured in the Festival of Trees, will be also unveiled. The trees will be displayed for a week, wrapping up with a special event from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 21 at the senior center.

The Chocolate Festival serves up desserts that have been donated by individuals, restaurants and the senior center chefs.

Besides chocolate, My Blue Heaven will perform live music while participants bid on Christmas trees and dance.

The Chocolate Festival has been held for five years.

“I really have to give credit to Bernadette Lauritzen to have something elegant for people in the community,” said Los Alamos Retired Seniors Organization Executive Director Pauline Schneider.  “While she was working at the Community Health Council, she came up with the idea. She had the idea and I had the location and we both love chocolate.”

The fun doesn’t stop with this festival; another one, the Festival of Trees, will continue the festivities.

The Festival of Trees is 7-years-old. Lauritzen also had a hand in developing this event.

“Both Bernadette and I have seen it done in other communities,” Schneider said. “We did it once (and) before the day was over people were asking ‘You are going to do this again?’”

Besides the trees, a special guest, Santa Claus, will make an appearance for photos. The trees are donated by individuals and will be up for bids. People can also bid on a number of quilts.

“I think it’s the trees that people really like,” Schneider said.

However, she said hopefully poinsettias will be sold during the Festival of Trees and participants will be served lunch. Live music will be provided by Pat Reich on piano and Greg Schneider on guitar.

Crafts can be purchased, too. Kachina dolls, jewelry, knitted pieces, crochet pieces, baskets, tote bags and aprons will be for sale.

These festivals share a purpose. They are raising money for the senior center and the Community Health Council.

Last year, both fundraisers have collected a total of $4,000.

“It helps both of our programs,” Schneider said, “and I think for us at the senior center  the funds very well be going toward meals, rides.”

She explained tough financial times may be in store for the senior center. “I’m really afraid those are going to be cut from our state funding.”

Schneider said, “We deliver meals to people at home and get people to doctor appointments and we as a community want to see those services continue at the level that they are. It will be extra important to do this kind of fundraiser to get donations to have these (services continue).”

These fundraisers are important to the agencies but they are also fun for the community.

“They’re festive,” Schneider said. “I know that some families come back each year for Santa. We have a wonderful senior Santa. It’s a chance for people to get locally created holiday décor as well as the crafts that the vendors are selling – they are all local people.”

Plus, “this is a community event where everyone is welcomed. It gets people who have never come for services – they see what we do the rest of the time,” Schneider said. “If they have a good time they will be more inclined to check us out when they do need services.

“It gives us a chance to share what we’re all about.”

Tickets are now on sale for $20 at the Betty Ehart Senior Center. You can call to reserve tickets or pick them up at the senior center. For more information, call 662-8920.