Saturday, December 06, 2008

Festival of Trees

Last night, Mandy, the children and I went over to Penn State University to the Ag Center Building to view a special event held there very year now -the "Festival of Trees."

I don't know the specifics as to who organizes this event but it consists of live Christmas trees that are all decorated -each by a specific organization from the area -and then the public can come and view all these spectacular trees. The ornaments, for the majority of the trees, are handmade -some by children in scout troops, some by members of various community groups as well as, no doubt, others that are made by employees of various agencies represented by these trees. It is truly a beautiful -an awesome sight -to see and if you're in the Central Pennsylvania region -Centre County, Clearfield, Blair, Clinton, Mifflin, etc., I would definitely recommend paying a visit to see the sights there.

There is also a section along the one side of the arena where crafters have booths set up to display and sell their wares too -also a very interesting area to check out, I might add! They also have a little snack stand where you can get hot dogs and a beverage as well. Admission to the event is $2.00 for adults, $1.00 for children ages 13-17 and children under the age of 13 are admitted for FREE! Can't beat that with a stick now, can you?

Some of the pictures I took came out blurry and generally, pretty crappy. I couldn't figure out how to fit the entire tree into the frame of the camera so some of the pictures are pretty much of the mid-section of the tree. Some, I actually managed -somehow -to get the entire tree and even the sign indicating what group had decorated that tree too. See, once in a while a miracle does happen when I have my camera in hand, huh?

As we were walking down the aisles, viewing -and oohing and aahing over the trees, all of a sudden Mandy tapped my arm, pointed at a lady who had just walked past her and said, "Isn't that your friend, Sharon, Mom?" I looked over where Mandy was indicating and there was this woman with hair that was almost white, in a style exactly like my friend, Sharon Rolley, has -the build was like Sharon's too but to be sure, I wondered over towards where she had seated herself and yep, it certainly was her! Sharon and I go back a goodly number of years, having met our Sophomore year in high schoo -in the fall of 1959! My gosh, do you realize come next September it will mark a half century that Sharon and I have been friends? Because Sharon and her Mom moved in the summer of 1961 from Karthaus, PA to Bellefonte, PA, she didn't graduate with my class but she has always felt that she belonged with the West Branch class and so, she always tries to be sure to attend our class reunions then. When I leaned over and tapped her on the shoulder, she was pretty surprised to see me, Mandy and the kids standing there! Here's Sharon and Mandy chatting a bit.
One of the first pictures I took was of Maya, standing beside the Easter Seals Group's tree. This tree had a special significance for us because the Autism Group that Mandy belongs to -and which meets in State College - made the ornaments for the tree. They focused mainly on the autism symbol -the puzzle pieces in a ribbon -and designed puzzle pieces around photos of their children to hang on the tree. Therefore, Kurt and Maya each have an ornament with their picture in the center, hanging on this tree. shown here. My apologies that this is one of those kind of blurry pictures I took.
Something else they have at this event is located in the center of the arena -Santa and Mrs. Claus! Yep! In all their glory and just waiting for any child who is brave enough to come face-to-face with the bearded old guy and sit on his lap, Santa will listen to Christmas wishes and Mrs. Claus hands the children each a little peppermint stick before they leave too. And, not only that, but you can -for $3.00 -have a picture taken of your child with Santa and Mrs. Claus -a nice little polaroid, all framed for you too in a cute little Christmas card folder. Here's Maya sitting with Santa and Mrs. Claus. (Kurtis wanted no parts of sitting with either of them -didn't want to be NEAR them to be honest about it!)
Kurtis much preferred to run in circles in the middle of the arena and as long as he wasn't in danger of knocking any other kids (or adults) over, we pretty much let him do his thing then. All the better to wear you out quickly so when we get home, you will crash and burn in record time, dearly little boy! Which, I might add, is pretty much what he did too!)

While we were strolling around -Mandy going one direction, me in another -and Iwas walking up this one aisle, I saw Mandy talking to someone. As I got closer, I recognized who it was -Tom Owens, who used to be our church organist. So I continued walking towards them and when I got close to them, I just called out Tom's name. He spun around to see who had called for him and as he did, I snapped this picture of good old Tom! He was there last night to play the keyboard, accompanying a group of singers from one of the chorale groups in the county as they were performing there last night.
(By the way, Tom is one really fantastic musician! He's an excellent organist/pianist -even plays the organ with one hand and uses the foot pedals while holding/playing the trumpet in the other hand -all simultaneously and the music is just awesome to behold! Always great to see Tom out and about!)

These two pictures are of my friend, Sharon Rolley, standing beside two different trees. I don't remember what group had done the tree in the above photo, but it was the tree Sharon said she had liked the best and had voted for it. The tree in the picture below -with Sharon -was done by the Penn State Master Gardeners and the decorations on it were truly incredible -including the beehive -yes, a for real beehive -as the crowning ornament atop the tree!
The rest of the pictures are of various trees -if I was able to identify the group, I will post the name below the tree. If not, then just consider it to be one of many that were on display and all were really gorgeous to view. Just a really neat way to spend an evening -out with the kids, doing something relatively inexpensive too!

American Association of University Women -AAUW Tree.

African Violet Association Tree -Did you know they had a society? I didn't, but boy, the tree was very pretty with African violet decor all around it!

The "Community Help Center" Tree.

The Community Safety Net Tree.

The House of Care Tree.

A Montessori School Tree.

Penn State Conferences Tree

The "Santa Claus" Tree -I think this one was sponsored by one of the banks in State College -not sure, but I think that's the case. It was pretty awesome and really caught the eye quickly of almost all the kids too!

The Penn State Master Gardeners Tree -I know this was in the photo above with my friend, Sharon, but it was such an eye-catcher, I couldn't resist another picture of it!

The State College Spikes Tree -by the minor league baseball team in State College. If you look really close, you might be able to see the ornaments are all baseball related. Really cute tree!

The "Wishing Tree" -done, I believe by a multi-cultural society on campus. The "ornaments" consisted of handwritten wishes, placed by visitors who wanted to put a wish on the tree, in con]unction with an old Iranian legend about wishes and how to get them to come true. The tree was virtually covered with these hand-written messages and the overwhelming majority of the ones I looked at were wishes for Peace. Sounds like a wonderful wish to me!

The Hearthside Tree -done by the nursing home where my older daughter, Carrie, works as a CNA (certified nursing assistant.)

The "Wild Dream Team" Tree -done by the people who comprise a team of special ed students, advisors, etc., and who have done some spectacular things, winning lots of awards and such, over the years. A great group and a great tree!

The "WISH-98.7" tree -a radio station I guess from the State College area. Never heard of it before but I think it may have been part of the Forever Broadcasting Company.

And there you have 'em! As many trees as I could identify that I got photos of last night at the State College Festival of Trees!

After leaving there, we went to Burger King for a quick bite to eat and then, up to the mall to do a little Christmas shopping! Thanks to some really great sales yesterday at J.C. Penney's, I came home with a new winter jacket/coat, a pair of corduroy jeans, and two sweaters, plus I got Mandy's Christmas presents as well -she picked them out! Since she picked them out, tried them on too, now I don't have to wrap them! Hip, hip, HOoray! One task now made unnecessary!

This morning, Maya and I went up to Morrisdale to the Methodist Church there where they were having a "Cookie and Candy Sale" and came h ome with roughly 3 1/2 pounds of cookies and candy! Well, that should tack on another five pounds on me, at the least! But since that is also the church my Dad's family had belonged to and my one cousin and her family still are members there, I got to see my cousin, Margaret Anne, her husband Jack and their grandson, Pj Monella. Pj is quite the young politician and has, as his goal, to someday become President of the United States! A right good young man he is, for sure!

Hope you enjoyed my sometimes blurry, shaky tree photos and who knows, maybe some of you reading this will get the urge to go over to the University and view them in person too!

(In my next life, maybe I will study public relations or marketing -some such thing like that!)


Lifecruiser said...

Wow! What a collection of stunning xmas trees. Many very wonderful ones I must say and I love the more unusual Santa of course!

Well, one just have to get the xmas mood after seeing that :-)

Theresa said...

What a fun event! It is so nice that kids can get in free, since Christmas time is for them. What a great idea having different groups decorate indivudual trees. If we lived nearby, I would have this event in my "Must do" to get into the Christmas spirit.

terri said...

What a fun event to go to. As my kids are getting so much older, I'm wishing I could find something like this to enjoy with them.

Morgan Mandel said...

The trees are gorgeous. I don't know which I like best, since they're all so good. The Santa Claus one is really funny.

The photo with Mr and Mrs Claus is adorable.

Sounds like you all had a great time, plus you got to see your friend. What more could you ask for.

Morgan Mandel

Suldog said...

It looks like a wonderful event. And the $3 to have your picture taken with the Clauses is a bargain, these days.

Maggie May said...

Brilliant tree pictures. Don't think I have ever seen so many all together like that.

Debo Blue said...

Is it just me or do those trees all look the same? I KNOW two of them are the same!

Just asking (winking)

Sandi McBride said...

Wow, beautiful Post Jeni!

Vic Grace said...

I used to be involved with the Festival of Trees when I worked in a hotel. People were very creative with them. Nice day out for you. I am still not getting you in my feed will keep trying though.