A festive start to the holiday season

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the Betty Ehart Senior Center. Christmas trees of all sizes have begun to fill the center, as donations for the Festival of Trees have begun to flow in.
This year will mark the 7th Annual Festival of Trees, an event during which the public can bid on the trees at the center. The event is part of the holiday activities at the BESC, which also includes the Festival of Chocolate on Nov. 19. The Festival of Trees will be from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 20 at the BESC.
In addition to the festival, an arts and crafts fair will also be held. Children who attend the Festival of Trees will get the opportunity to have their picture taken with Santa Claus, as well. Lunch will be served and there will be live music by Pat Reich and Greg Schneider. The duo will play piano and classical guitar during the event.
BESC Executive Director Pauline Schneider began accepting tree and wreath donations in October and after only a couple of weeks, had received 40 trees that would be put up for auction, however trees donations have flowed in since then, so there should be a wide variety of trees and wreaths to choose from. She said the donations come from various places, including individuals and service groups in town.
“Former staff members bring in trees and we encourage businesses (to donate),” she said. “They come in all sizes and usually have some kind of theme. They all have a name.”
Some of the themed trees of festivals past include kid’s trees, a mitten tree, a tree with a “Polar Express” theme, a button-down tree, a snowman tree, a tree with a “My Blue Christmas” theme and a cookie cutter-themed tree.
Schneider said that this year, there are a lot of vendors who will sell their crafts during the arts and crafts fair.
“We’ll have vendors selling candles, quilts, aprons, jewelry, woodworking, cribbage boards, pens, purses and stained glass,” Schneider said, naming a few of the items attendees will be able to purchase.
“We do have some regional vendors who come from outside the county.” Schneider said that BESC will also collect canned goods during the festival, for distribution to LA Cares and other pantries, which are faith-based.
Schneider is hoping that this year’s Festival of Trees will be just as successful as last year’s. “Last year, every tree had a bid,” she said.
Schneider also said that attendees look forward to the festival because they’re curious to see what themes the trees will be decked out in.
“Santa’s also a big draw,” Schneider said. “A local senior plays Santa every year. He starts growing his beard in the summer and he’s wonderful with the little kids.”
Community Health Council
Coordinator Michelangelo Lobato, who is helping to coordinate the festival said that last year, the photos with Santa were taken and printed out for the children and their families.
“It’s a good, clean family event … It’s for everyone, from young kids to the oldest adult,” Schneider said of the festival.
During the festival, the BESC staff will also sell poinsettias. For more information about the Festival of Trees or the arts and crafts fair, call 662-8920 or 662-4160.