Festival of Trees: How lovely are the branches

At annual Rotary event, Christmas brings out charity, creativity

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter


photoPhotos by Vivian Johnson/for The Columbian Cole Stokes, 8, left, and his sister Calista, 6, take in a Parisian-themed Christmas tree -- with shining fleurs-de-lys and Eiffel Towers -- during a Saturday visit to the Festival of Trees at Pearson Air Museum with their family.


If you go

• Festival of Trees: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Pearson Air Museum, 1115 E. Fifth St. The Vancouver Rotary Foundation Festival of Trees is free, but organizers suggest a donation of $5 per family.

• Hot Buttered Run and Kids Kandy Kane Race: 8 a.m. Sunday, registration. 8:30 a.m., kids zone and gear check-in. 9:30 a.m., 12k run starts. 10 a.m., 5k walk/run starts. 11:45 a.m., kids races start. Noon, awards ceremony. All starting and finishing at Pearson Air Museum. Admission: $40 on race day for 12K and 5K. Kandy Kane Race is sold out.

• Gala dinner and tree auction: 5:30 to 10 p.m. Dec. 1, Pearson Air Museum. Cost: $95 per person. Reservations required. Call 360-750-0409.

A tree done in a Parisian theme, one inspired by the "The 12 Days of Christmas" and a whimsical one that -- you've been warned -- will talk to you if you stop to look.

If your idea of a perfectly decorated Christmas tree involves nothing more than a few strands of lights, a sentimental mishmash of ornaments and a simple crowning star, you won't find one at the Vancouver Rotary Foundation's Festival of Trees, which will be open again today.

The professionally decorated trees are considerably more imaginative.

However, University of Washington football fans still stung by Friday's loss to the Washington State Cougars in the Apple Cup may want to avoid lingering by "Crimson Chic," an 8-foot-tall artificial tree bedecked in alternating rows of sparkling crimson and silver.

Instead, they can gaze at "Black and White by Design," an 8-foot-tall artificial tree that could also be called "Ode to Zebras," or count the stuffed critters in "Christmas in the Cascades," a 6-foot-tall artificial tree that's home to a stuffed moose and a stuffed bear. Other elaborately adorned trees include "Flight of Angels," a 9-foot-tall artificial tree topped with large pairs of white feathery wings, and "Dazzling the Holidays," a 6-foot-tall real tree that trades the traditional Christmas colors of green and red for pink and silver.

A steady schedule of entertainment, which on Saturday included an adult choir and students from the Claudette Walker School of Dance, brought in more spectators.

The 17th annual event continues 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Pearson Air Museum, 1115 E. Fifth St.

Visitors who go to the Festival of Trees in the morning can expect a large crowd outside of the museum for the Hot Buttered Run, which has 5k and 12k races as well as races for children. (The kids' races are sold out.) More than 900 runners and walkers participated in last year's Hot Buttered Run.

About 2 p.m. Saturday, there were more than 200 people at the museum including Jake and Lisa Lowary of Vancouver and their children, 4-year-old Marisa and Colin, 10 months.

Both children sat with Mrs. Claus for a picture, then Lisa picked up Colin so his big sister could talk with Mrs. Claus.

Marisa said she wanted a doll in a pink dress for Christmas.

It was the family's second straight year of attending the event, and Marisa said she liked looking at the pretty trees.

The trees will be auctioned at a Dec. 1 gala dinner, said Gary Bock, a member of the Vancouver Rotary Foundation.

Money raised at the dinner goes to fund scholarships and community grants. Other items for auction include golf packages and gift baskets.

Stephanie Rice: 360-735-4508 or stephanie.rice@columbian.com.