Trees for the season on display

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Auction: The Festival of Chocolate kicks off the Festival of Trees

By Bernadette Lauritzen

Los Alamos MainStreet is working with the Betty Ehart Senior Center and Champions of Youth Ambitions (C’YA) to make this the most wonderful time of the year.

The festivities kicked off with the Festival of Chocolate and rolls into a weeklong event called The Festival of Trees.

All week, residents are invited to tour the Betty Ehart Senior Center and view (and in some cases) bid on silent auction items.

While the event is free and open to the public, it is an excellent opportunity to help those in need, during the holiday season.

Collection bins are on hand for breakfast, lunch and snack items for students and other non-perishables will be donated to project partners to make their holiday meals extra special. Change is also being collected to benefit the community programs for those that forget non-perishables during their visit.

Pauline Powell Schneider, the director of the Los Alamos Retired and Senior Organization, hopes to utilize funds raised through the weeklong events to benefit their senior transportation program, while C’YA will benefit educational opportunities throughout the region.

From 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 17, the largest of the activities will be at the senior center. The final event for the Festival of Trees is a four-hour celebration, complete with holiday music from Dr. Greg Schneider, portraits with Santa and a mini mall of arts and crafts, in every price range.

The best bet of the day is a chance to win items donated by the vendors with the final ticket drawn to win a fully decorated holiday tree for $1. 

The items in the silent auction include full-sized and miniature trees, holiday wreaths, a quilt and other decorative items.

One showcase item for the event is a holiday village donated by Jackie and Leonard Bebe. The opening bid for the fully functioning model train and holiday village is $200. The village expands two table lengths.

The veterans are out in full force with donors Louise Hassman, Linda Hull, the Summit Garden Club, Kay Burick, Christine Juveland and Vera Gallagher back for another year.

“This year’s festival is a bird-lovers paradise,” Schneider said. “There are trees with Cardinals, feathery trees and an outside tree that real birds can actually find treats on — suet, oranges, cranberries and more.” 

Schneider’s office can be seen brimming with forestation, the week leading up to the festival season. This is the 10th year the festival is at the BESC.

The trees come in themes often debated for months leading up to the event. 

“For the younger set, there is a dinosaur tree, one bedecked with charms and a ‘Pearls before Swine’ tree,” Schneider said.

 The BESC is open from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday. The Festival starts at 10 a.m. Saturday. The final bids on all items will be snapped up at 2 p.m.