PINEHURST – “Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, how lovely are thy branches.”
Thousands of branches have been transformed into lovely masterpieces in preparation for the Sandhills Children’s Center’s 21st Annual Festival of Trees.
The iconic fundraising event will be held at the Carolina Hotel in Pinehurst, and is set to run Wednesday, November 29, through Sunday, December 3. Hours of operation will run from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. There is no set admission price for the event, however, all attendees are required to make a monetary donation to the organization’s cause.
Originating in 1997 with a mere 40 trees on display, the Festival of Trees has over tripled in size over the course of its existence. This year’s event proudly boasts over 200 Christmas Tree displays, and is projected to host between 12,000 and 15,000 visitors.
The trees for this event come in all shapes and sizes, and range in size from as small as two feet tall, to as large as seven and a half feet tall. Large or small, the trees are provided by the Children’s Center.
The one-of-a-kind displays would not be possible without the generosity of local community members. Each tree is sponsored by local families, businesses, churches, and organizations, whose members graciously volunteered their time, talents, and resources to transform ordinary trees into eye-catching creations.
Part of what sets these displays apart from others, however, is the range of decorations with which they are covered. Instead of sticking to the traditional décor of ribbons, beads, balls and lights, these trees are decorated with valuable items such as gift certificates, and are paired with carefully curated gift baskets and wreaths.
So, why such extravagant displays? In a phrase: dollar value.
Every tree that is created for the event will be auctioned off to the highest bidder in an effort to raise money for the Sandhills Children’s Center. Through careful calculations, event organizers are able to determine a fair market value price for each tree that will set the tone for the bidding war that will begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
By utilizing an electronic bidding system similar to Ebay, contenders are able to bid on the trees and contents of their choosing. At the conclusion of the auction on Sunday at 7:00 p.m., the lucky winners will be able to pick up their trees, or schedule a time for them to be delivered.
Despite its name, the Festival of Trees includes more than just jaw-dropping tree displays. This year’s event will also include raffle drawings for prizes that span from an Apple watch, to a television, to a golf cart, and everywhere in between. Additionally, visitors who attend on Sunday will have the opportunity to shop at the festival marketplace, a presentation of over 75 festive vendors who will be set up in the grand ballroom.
To mix things up and keep the event fresh, event coordinators are excited to include nightly themes. Ranging from a classic ladies night out, to military appreciation, a festival marketplace, and an ultimate ugly Christmas sweater party, each of the nightly themes will certainly have something for everyone.
Regardless of the reason that people choose to attend the event, Community Relations Representative and event organizer, Robin Duff, hopes that everyone will remember what the event is truly all about: helping children.
“The purpose of the event I to help children with special needs get physical, occupational, and speech therapy,” Duff explained.
For those unfamiliar with such services, they do not come cheap.
“We never turn away a child with special needs because of their inability to pay,” Duff added.
To find out more about the Sandhills Children’s Center and the Festival of Trees, visit their website, www.sandhillschildrenscenter.org.