PENDLETON - Local children who were having trouble conjuring up "visions of sugarplums" won't have that problem anymore if they visited the annual Festival of Trees Family Day Saturday at the Pendleton Convention Center.
More than 21 trees decorated in every imaginable style were available for inspiration at the annual event, which takes place each year the day after the Festival of Trees Gala, at which the public and businesses bid on the extravagantly decorated trees.
This year the event raised $14,550 for St. Anthony Hospital. The high selling tree was "Celestial Christmas," decorated by Sally Bishop, Jean Kindle, LaVerne Crume, Jenny Sam, Margie Gutierrez, Kathy McCoy and Ellen Harman. The tree, which was purchased by Banner Bank for $1,050, came complete with a book on astronomy and a telescope.
The decoration and design of the trees covered a wide variety of themes, from "Bob the Builder" to "A Doggone Fabulous Christmas." Each tree and all its contents is delivered to the high bidder today, saving them even the trouble of setting up the tree in their own home.
But before they are claimed by the highest bidders, the convention center is opened to the public in order to give everyone in town a chance to see the decorations. For many local families this has become an annual event.
"I help decorate the trees and the grandkids, of course, absolutely love it," said Anne Mahoney. "They like the fish pond and face painting the best."
Face painting and "fishing" for special prizes at the fish pond are just two of the activities available throughout the day.
Children also could spend time talking to Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Or for those too bashful to speak to the old gentleman in person, a special table was set aside for penning a personal wish list.
And adults found no shortage of activities either. Classes in wreath making were a popular choice throughout the day and festival shops made ornaments similar to those used on some of the trees available for purchase, making it possible for those unable to buy a tree to take something home from the event.
For the first time this year, those who were unable to attend the event Friday had an opportunity to bid on one of the trees. "A+ Christmas" decorated by Pendleton Family Medicine, Jon Hitzman, Andy Hyatt, Frank Szumski and Shari Roberts, was on display in the lobby Saturday morning with bids being taken throughout the day.
Entertainment also was provided on the main stage all day by a variety of local talent, including the Kick-it-Up-Cloggers, the Nazarene Youth Bell Choir and The Children's Dance Company of Hermiston.
Proceeds of this year's event, staffed by more than 600 local volunteers, will be used to help St. Anthony Hospital Hospice patients.