What’s in a name? Christmas spirit

Festival of Trees’ themed entries one facet of event’s many delights

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter



Vancouver Festival of Trees

Kick off the holiday season with a community tree lighting in Esther Short Park at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 25. It includes free coffee and cocoa along with a concert by the Vancouver school district’s combined High School Choir. Following the ceremony, enjoy a free holiday concert by the Vancouver Pops Orchestra at 6:30 p.m. at the Hilton Vancouver Washington. Then tour the decorated trees and wreaths filling the Pearson Air Museum throughout the weekend, along with the Talking Tree, photos with Santa or Mrs. Claus, and a scavenger hunt.

When: Tree viewing noon to 9 p.m. Nov. 25; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 26; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 27.

Where: Esther Short Park, 301 W. Eighth St.; Hilton Vancouver Washington, 301 W. Sixth St.; Pearson Air Museum, 1115 E. Fifth St., Vancouver.

Admission: Free; nonperishable food or financial donations encouraged.

Telephone: 360-750-0409.

On the Web:rotaryfestivaloftrees.org.

Hot Butter Run and Kandy Kane Race

Part of the Vancouver Rotary Foundation’s Festival of Trees, the race is a 12-kilometer run that will start and finish at the Pearson Air Museum, along with a 5K walk/run, a “Kids’ Kandy Kane” race for those ages 3-7 and a “Kids Kandy Kane 1K” for those ages 5-12. After the run, join the party with DJ Paradox and Santa Claus, enjoy hot buttered rums and hot chocolate while touring the Festival of Trees. Online registration is closed.

When: Nov. 27; 9:40 a.m. 12K; 10 a.m. 5K; 11:30 a.m. kids races.

Where: Pearson Air Museum, 1115 E. Fifth St., Vancouver.

Admission: $40 on race day for 12K and 5K, $5-$7 for Kids Kandy Kane Races.

On the Web: energyeventsllc.com/hotbutteredrun.

Gala Dinner and Auction

The final event of the Festival of Trees includes dinner and several auctions for pre-decorated trees, golf and vacation packages, winery tours and more. Proceeds go to local nonprofits and scholarships for students in the community.

When: 5:30 to 10 p.m. Dec. 3.

Where: Pearson Air Museum, 1115 E. Fifth St., Vancouver

Admission: $95 per person for the dinner. Reservations required.

Telephone: 360-750-0409

On the Web:rotaryfestivaloftrees.org.

Most people don’t feel a need to name their Christmas tree after they finish decorating it — unless “Finally, that’s done. Who wants cocoa?” counts.

For the designers at the Vancouver Rotary Festival of Trees, though, finding a name and a theme has become an art form.

A glance at a few of the tree titles this year shows the creativity involved. Selections like “Santa’s Other 364 Days,” “Tall, Dark and Handsome,” “An Autumn Christmas,” “Shoe La La!” and “Santa’s on Safari” make you want to see more.

The festival, in its 16th year, includes a chance to check out the designs for free. It also includes a community tree lighting Friday evening at Esther Short Park, concerts, a banquet and auctions over the next week.

“It’s a real tradition for families now,” said Kaitlin Smith, chairwoman of marketing for the event. “It’s beautiful with all the trees lit up. Santa comes with his elves. We even have a (Vancouver Pops Orchestra) concert across the street after the big tree lighting at Esther Short Park.”

Vancouver Rotary uses the events to raise funds for local scholarships and community nonprofits.

Families that come for the big tree lighting get free hot drinks and music, and afterwards they can head to the Pops concert or the tree viewing at Pearson Air Museum, 1115 E. Fifth St.

This year, there are 17 themed trees displayed that will be auctioned off for the cause at the Dec. 3 Gala Dinner and Auction.

Other items will also be auctioned at the dinner, including golf packages, catered meals, winery tours and vacations.

“This is our primary fundraiser,” said Kim Hash, gala organizer. “It’s a great way for people to kick off their holiday season. And a great way to get a start on your Christmas shopping.”

Those who just want to check out the trees are welcome to view them through the holiday weekend. Prices vary, but they tend to sell for around $600-$800 for the smaller ones and a few thousand dollars for the larger ones.

“Our record was $4,400 for the ‘Lewis and Clark’ tree about eight years ago,” said Robin Anderson, event designer for the Festival of Trees.

Of course, visitors don’t have to bid on trees. They can just look, or try to pick up some ideas for their own decorating themes, Anderson said.

Anderson has been designing trees for the event for the past 10 years. Her tree this year is called “Tall, Dark and Handsome.”

“It’s black and gold with a laurel leaf garland and elves in the branches,” Anderson said.

The tree also has ruby red poinsettias and diamond-shaped ornaments placed around its branches.

As for the some of the other designs, “Santa’s Other 364 Days,” by Karey Dillingham, is aimed at showing the “sporty, nature loving side of Santa” and includes mini-themes of camping, traveling and games. “Holiday Classic — Washington State University,” by Teddy Jo Mires and Pam Farwell, is decorated in the school’s crimson and gray colors and shows snowmen and snowbirds skating, sledding and skiing. And “Shoe La La!,” by Darcy and Megan Neu, is a small tree adorned with all sorts of shoes.

When decorating, Anderson said it’s important to think up a theme for your tree first. Try thinking about color schemes, specific shapes and a subject or topic.

Usually you want to choose a dominant color and work around it. Repetition of ornaments or shapes also helps to emphasize a theme, she said.

Blinking lights tend to take away from a unified look. You want to pick lights that fit your color scheme and use a minimum of 100 lights per foot of tree.

And you want to wrap lights around branches from back to front, never around the entire tree.

“My tree at home is actually very subdued,” Anderson said. “I have a color theme that I use — sometimes I trade it out — but I have the same ornaments every year.”

Whether you’re looking for ideas or looking for gifts, the big tree-lighting ceremony and displays at Pearson Air Museum are fun to check out, and they offer something for just about everyone, Smith said

“People can come and exercise off all the turkey and pumpkin pie they’ve been eating,” Smith said. “It’s just a real community gathering. You really have to see it.”