Posted: November 3, 2012
The Winchester Star
Winchester — Nothing says Christmas like hot-pink sock moneys, disco balls, cowboy boots and sand dollars.
The funky fixtures are a few of the items that adorn the 125 Christmas trees, wreaths and centerpieces and will be for sale during the Youth Development Center’s 16th annual Festival of Trees.
Of course, snowflakes, candy canes, and colorful round ornaments will be available for people wanting something more traditional decorations, said Regina O’Brien, executive director of the YDC.
That’s the beauty of sending bare trees and wreaths out into the community and asking people to decorate them any way they want — a completely new crop of holiday decorations comes in every year, she said.
“What is most amazing to us is not only the generosity of all these people willing to decorate trees for us, but the creativity of them,” she said.
The event will take place Nov. 10-18 in the center at 3 Battaile Drive. The hours are 6-9 p.m. Nov. 10 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 11-18.
Admission to the show and all related events are free and open to the public.
The eight-day celebration will begin with a preview party from 6 to 9 p.m. Nov. 10, O’Brien said. Shoppers who attend will get first pick of this year’s merchandise, which includes 2-, 3-, 4- and 6-foot trees, wreaths and centerpieces.
And Ye Olde Holiday Shoppe will be stocked with ornaments and holiday decorations of all kinds.
Proceeds from the sale benefit YDC. Last year’s event raised about $25,000, O’Brien said.
The annual event is the largest fundraiser for the organization, which provides educational and recreational activities for local youth. More than 500 children and adults visit the YDC each week.
The party will also feature a live auction with items such as an iPad, a Keurig coffee maker, a ski weekend at Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort, artwork and jewelry. A few of the trees will also be auctioned, including one with gift certificates to area restaurants and another with Virginia Tech memorabilia.
The party also will feature food donated by 30 area restaurants and a raffle for an original watercolor painting by YDC Founder Tom Baker.
This year’s Senior Day is scheduled for Nov. 14 (2 to 4 p.m.), when seniors will receive a 15 percent discount, O’Brien said. Light snacks will be served and door prizes will be presented.
Family Day activities will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Nov. 18. In addition to the shopping, photos with Santa will be available (participants should bring their cameras), along with Frosty’s Fun Fest Carnival, a performance by the Stonewall Elementary School Chorus, hat- and cookie-decorating and refreshments.
Throughout the show, a bin will be available to collect nonperishable food items for the Congregational-Community Action Project food bank, she said.
At the end of the week, someone will take home the “cowgirl tree,” which has a head and arms and boots underneath. The “Kiss and Make-Up” tree, decorated with ornaments and make-up, will also be featured. Other themes include country Christmas, birds and berries, lollipops, red and gold, the seashore and sports.
“Everybody loves the holidays and appreciates the creativity of these items,” O’Brien said. “I think it makes them feel good to walk around and look at the generosity of the community and the uniqueness of the designs.”
About 85 percent of the businesses, individuals, schools, churches and organizations decorating trees this year have been doing so since the event started, she said.
It is such a fun way to do something good for the community, which is part of the appeal, she added.
That was the potential former board member Shelda Longerbeam saw in the event when she suggested it more than 16 years ago. She saw a similar festival in Charleston, S.C., and thought it would do well.
It did do well, and part of that annual success is due to Longerbeam. Since the festival started, she has bought several trees every year and even had to have a shed built to store her extra trees during the year.
“I love Christmas; I love the trees,” said Longerbeam, 75, of Frederick County. “I like going out there and buying them. That is my weakness.”
Longerbeam has 100 trees that she will display this year. She is donating about eight of them to a local nonprofit organization, but that is just a “good excuse to get eight more.”
For more information, call 540-662-4564 or visit myydc.org.
— Contact Laura McFarland at firstname.lastname@example.org