United Way’s Festival of Trees returns to CPI

For the second consecutive year, the auditorium at the Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology will look and smell like Christmas.

The Centre County United Way is again holding its annual Festival of Trees at the indoor location on Harrison Road in Pleasant Gap to raise money for the partner agencies and give families a place to get into the holiday spirit.

“In my opinion, it’s a really fun way to kick off the holiday season,” communications coordinator Megan Evans said.

The event will run from 4 to 9 p.m., Dec. 12 and 13; from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Dec. 14; and noon to 4 p.m., Dec. 15. Admission is $1 for children and $2 for adults.

The room will be filled with more than 60 trees from participating local businesses, and community members and attendees can vote for their favorites by donating money in buckets under the trees. Evans said there will also be a scavenger hunt for the children to find specific ornaments on trees, and they will be rewarded with a candy cane for participating.

There will also be a craft fair on site where people will be able to browse and purchase holiday gifts for friends and family.

Live entertainment will also be on hand for the celebration.

The festival is a part of the Bellefonte Victorian Christmas, and there is a shuttle provided from downtown Bellefonte to CPI, adding to the atmosphere and number of people at the event.

Evans said the festival attracted more people than usual last year because the shuttle was continually full and bringing in excited visitors.

Though it’s not the biggest fundraiser of the year for the United Way, Evans said the Festival of Trees provides some money for the partner agencies, and is an event people look forward to every year.

The event had been held in the Penn State Agricultural Arena, but Evans said CPI provides a warm, indoor atmosphere and people seemed to enjoy themselves at the new location last year.

She thinks CPI will be home for the festival for many years.