- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
As 25 years of Christmas tree tradition come to a close, the Society for the Friends of Hospice is looking to make this year’s Festival of Trees the best event yet.
After a quarter century of being the most successful event held by the fundraising arm of the Hospice of Charles County, the board of directors is looking to usher the old event out in favor of new opportunities.
“We’re looking to get something new going next year to really spark new interest,” hospice President Sarah Swann said. “It’s a great event, but sometimes things like this just run their course.”
Although the Dueling Pianos event that has been a hallmark of the Festival of Trees for the last few years will remain in place, Swann said the group is taking a different approach toward the Saturday evening event. This year, Swann said, galagoers need not get overdressed for the occasion.
“This year, we decided to have a ‘Black Tie & Blue Jeans Ball,’” Swann said. “It’s something so that our guests who come out can do so a bit more comfortably. They can choose getting dressed up or coming in something more casual if that’s what suits them.”
In recognition of this being the last year for the festival, Swann said the board has reached out to past members and presidents to “encourage them to come out and celebrate” this year. Decorating the trees, which will be on display through the weekend at the Jaycees center, began Sunday and has been successful so far, according to Christy Dickerson, this year’s event chairwoman. Although there have been some roadblocks, Dickerson said as a whole, the coordination for this year’s event has gone well.
“We’ve had some members leave the board this year, but everyone on the board has helped out a lot so far this year,” Dickerson said. “We’re really fortunate to have an active executive board involved.”
Dickerson said the theme of this year’s event, “Silver Traditions,” was decided on in January and recognizes the event’s long-standing place in the community. Although she was unsure exactly how many participants are decorating trees for the display this year, Dickerson anticipates this year’s Festival of Trees enjoying levels of success comparable to the past: last year, the event raised around $65,000 for the hospice.
“We really want to go out with a bang this year,” Dickerson said. “Up until the umpteenth hour, you’ve always got people coming in wanting to decorate trees, and we try not to turn anyone away. A lot of people have purchased our trees in the past, and because you can only have so many trees, we’re going to wrap it up ... we’re hoping to see it go out well.”