Weekender

Festival of Trees grows annual fundraising event

Ellen Singerland plays holiday tunes on the pan flute during Festival of Trees at the Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology in 2015.
Ellen Singerland plays holiday tunes on the pan flute during Festival of Trees at the Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology in 2015. Centre Daily Times, file

By the time Festival of Trees starts, organizers estimate there will be at least 70 decorated Christmas-style trees on display — an increase from 62 trees last year.

Those trees help to transform Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology into a winter wonderland with live entertainment, a craft show and visit from Santa.

The annual event is part of the larger Bellefonte Victorian Christmas, and is held as a way to help benefit the Centre County United Way.

Money raised comes from admission fees and donations. Participating organizations also have donation bins near their trees for visitors to make contributions.

But the trees, decorated by those participating organizations, aren’t just for show.

In its 22nd year, Special Events Coordinator Beth Shaha said those trees are given to families in need to help fulfill holiday wishes.

And to prevent having too many trees left over, an auction will be held for the public to bid on a tree of their choice.

“That’s something new this year,” Shaha said. “We’ve had a lot of leftover trees in the past, and had a idea to help raise money and give those trees away instead.”

Trees eligible for the auction will be marked.

The auction will be held Dec. 9 and the person or family with the wining bid will be able to pick up their tree Dec. 11, after the event ends.

“Some trees might be basic, or others might be heavily decorated, but it’s a great way to ring in the holidays, while helping give back,” Shaha said.

Shaha said the United Way plans to auction 15 to 20 trees.

On the event’s list of new activities is also a wreath auction. The United Way teamed up with local businesses and gardening experts to help design the 22- to 24-inch wreaths.

“We have a lot going on this year that attributes to its growth,” Shaha said. “The biggest thing is that it’s one place where we can come together as a community to celebrate.”

This year also marks the second time Festival of Trees will feature a craft show with about 20 vendors.

Britney Milazzo: 814-231-4648, @M11azzo

IF YOU GO

What: Festival of Trees

When: 4-8 p.m. Dec. 9; 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Dec. 10 and noon-4 p.m. Dec. 11

Where: Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology, 540 N. Harrison Road, Pleasant Gap

Info: www.ccunitedway.org/festival-trees

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