Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Festival Branches out to Help Others

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Festival Branches out to Help Others

Article excerpt

Byline: terry brown

O Christmas trees, O Christmas trees, how charitable are thy branches?

Tonight, the St. Johns County Festival of Trees kicks off at the World Golf Village. Though many residents and visitors will attend the free 10-day event, organizers hope those folks also will donate generously to help others in need in the county.

Entering just its second year on the local holiday calendar, the Festival of Trees will benefit two local charities: The St. Augustine Record's Empty Stocking Fund and The United Way of St. Johns County. Visitors to the festival will have the opportunity to stroll through the Convention Center by the Renaissance Resort, where 65 trees are decorated in various holiday themes. Those attending will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite trees by way of a $1 minimum donation.

According to Peyton Taylor, communications manager for the World Golf Hall of Fame, this year's festival is already shaping up to be one of the most anticipated holiday events.

"Last year we had 43 trees entered in the festival and we raised more than $12,000 for local charities," Taylor said. "With 65 trees entered in the festival this year, we hope to significantly increase the amount of donations towards our charities."

Taylor said attendance was the key, and organizers are hoping visitors will take the opportunity to enjoy the craftsmanship and hard work of the various groups and organizations throughout the area that have designed and decorated the trees.

A variety of activities are scheduled to open the festival this evening including kids' cookie decorating, a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus, and an evening filled with music as the Magic Melodies Children's Choir, The Bethlehem, Grace and Christ Our Savior EV Lutheran Churches and The Big Orange Chorus will perform a variety of holiday tunes. …

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