Photos: Behind the scenes at the Festival of Trees

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People from various local groups, organizations and businesses were hard at work Sunday afternoon to get their holiday creations ready for the public to view at the Festival of Trees.

The annual event is the primary fundraiser for the O’Connell Children’s Shelter. This year, more than 45 individuals and community groups are donating trees, wreaths and gingerbread houses, according to the shelter’s website.

“The trees and wreaths are all decorated with inventive and whimsical themes in mind, and are auctioned off at the gala Festival of Trees event,” according to the website. “Proceeds from this event have been used to enhance services as well as make capital improvements.”

All of the creations will be on display for viewing hours this week. Organizers suggest a donation of $5 for adult guests and children older than 10. The schedule for viewing hours is as follows:

Monday, Nov. 28: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 29: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 30: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 1: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 2: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 3: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 4: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The trees will be auctioned off during an event on Wednesday, Nov. 30. Check-in begins at 5:30 p.m., and the live auction starts at 7 p.m. People who don’t attend the auction in person may still bid on items online, and silent auction bidding on the wreaths and gingerbread houses will continue until 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4. Find tickets to the auction and learn more about the Festival of Trees and associated events at this link.

The festival’s events also include two opportunities for kids to have cookies with Santa. Those are coming up Monday and Tuesday; learn more at this link.

The O’Connell Children’s Shelter is the merged entity of two social service agencies, O’Connell Youth Ranch and The Shelter, Inc. (aka The Children’s Shelter). They merged in November 2021.

“As one agency, O’Connell Children’s Shelter now has five residential homes for youth in the foster care system and also has programs that provide crisis intervention and prevention services for local and area children and families,” according to the website.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the festival setup process during two sessions on Sunday afternoon. Photos by August Rudisell

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