Vancouver’s Festival of Trees moves into the Pearson Air Museum

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Event schedule

• Most events for the Vancouver Rotary Foundation Festival of Trees, except the fundraising dinner and Hot Buttered Run, are free this year, but the organization asks for donations of nonperishable food. For more information: http://rotaryfest...

• Tree viewing and family activities noon to 9 p.m. Nov. 26, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 27, and noon to 4 p.m. Nov. 28 at Pearson Air Museum, 1115 E. Fifth St.

• Community Tree Lighting, 5:30 p.m. Nov. 26 at Esther Short Park, West Eighth and Columbia streets.

• Vancouver Pops Concert, 7 p.m. Nov. 26 at Hilton Vancouver Washington, 301 W. Sixth St.

• Hot Buttered Run and Kids Kandy Kane Race, 9:45 a.m. Nov. 28 at Pearson Air Museum, 1115 E. Fifth St. Cost to run is $40.15. Register: http://www.energy...

• Gala Dinner and Auction, 5:30 p.m. Dec. 4 at Pearson Air Museum, 1115 E. Fifth St. Tickets $95 each; call 360-750-0409.

Turkey and Santa may seem like an unlikely combination. But Santa’s arriving in Vancouver over Thanksgiving weekend this year, just in time for the Vancouver Rotary Foundation’s Festival of Trees.

In its 15th year, the familiar festival returns with some new twists Nov. 26-28.

As always, the three-day festival will allow participants to view trees decorated according to unusual themes — including “Snow Flake Fantasy,” “A Rip City Christmas” and “Bite Size Brilliance.” It will also continue to feature Santa Claus, a community tree lighting, Vancouver Pops Concert and live entertainment from bands and youth groups.

But the location is new this year. For the first time, the festival will be held at Pearson Air Museum. That move — previously the event has been at Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at the Quay — gave this year’s festival its “High Flying Holiday” theme. Decorated trees and wreaths will be scattered among vintage planes, and photos with Santa will follow the aviation theme.

The Festival of Trees, Vancouver Rotary Club’s traditional holiday kick-off, raises funds for scholarships and service projects that benefit the community.

“We have two goals for the event,” said Sheryl Beauchaine, chair of the Rotary committee that organized the festival. “First is to have a community event where folks can participate. Second is to raise money for the foundation and give back to the community.”

“The community tree lighting is really fun because it’s a huge family event,” said Katlin Smith, marketing coordinator for the event. “It’s just a great way to kick the holidays off.”

It also kicks off the festival. The free tree lighting will take place at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 26 in Esther Short Park in downtown Vancouver.

Santa Claus will arrive during the lighting, which will also include refreshments and other entertainment.

Following the ceremony, at 7 p.m., the Vancouver Pops will perform holiday tunes at the Hilton Vancouver Washington, 301 W. Sixth St., Vancouver.

The public viewing of decorated trees and wreaths is one of the most popular Festival of Trees activities.

Tree designers, who are all volunteers, carefully plan and construct their decorations, which will be auctioned off at a Dec. 4 gala.

Their work will be viewable at Pearson Air Museum, 1114 E. Fifth St., Vancouver, from noon to 9 p.m. Nov. 26, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 27 and noon to 4 p.m. Nov. 28.

Visitors can expect to see 12 fully decorated full-size trees that stand at least eight or nine feet, along with plenty of decorated wreaths.

“We’re looking forward to seeing all the families come out to see all the trees, which are so stunningly decorated,” Smith said.

The popular “Talking Tree” will also be ready for a conversation with any children who happen by.

“We don’t want to give away the magic, but children can go up to the tree and it will ask them questions and talk to them,” Smith said.

There will be a chance to win one of two fully-decorated three-foot Christmas trees. One tree is decorated according to a blue baby boy theme and the other has a candy theme. Entrants participate in the family scavenger hunt, spot special holiday words on the trees and fill in a scorecard. Winners will be drawn from among completed scorecards.

Running and walking events — the Hot Buttered Run and Kids Kandy Kane Race — are new to the festival this year. A 12 kilometer race will start at 9:45 a.m. Nov. 28, followed by an all-age 5 kilometer run/walk at 10 a.m. Registering for either of those runs costs $40.15, and must be completed online at http://www.energyevents.com/hotbutteredrun. Registration is closed for the two children-only races.

The weekend following the three-day festival, trees, wreaths and other donated items will be auctioned off at the $95-a-head Festival of Trees Gala Dinner and Auction. That event, which begins at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 4, is limited to adults 21 and older, and requires reservations. For tickets, call 360-750-0409.