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Festival of Trees event lights up

December 01, 2009|By BRIDGET DiCOSMO

HAGERSTOWN -- A group of visitors wove through the pathways between more than 40 fully decorated Christmas tree and wreath displays Tuesday afternoon at the grand illumination ceremony of Antietam Healthcare Foundation's Festival of Trees.

The fundraising event, which continues through Saturday, is in its sixth year and was held for the first time at Hager Hall Conference and Event Center on Dual Highway.

In the past, the Festival of Trees has been held at Robinwood Medical Center, but this year it was moved because construction at the medical center hindered parking, said Michael Day, chairman of Antietam Health Care Foundation.

The idea for the kickoff-to-Christmas event came from a group of volunteers and has grown since then, said Sandy Pollack, executive director of Antietam Healthcare Foundation.

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"Everybody comes together every year, and every year it's bigger and better," Pollack said.

The Festival of Trees requires a considerable amount of planning and setting up, Pollack said.

More than 100 volunteers participated in this year's event, many of whom were decorators who showcased their talents, Pollack said.

As for the trees, this year's judges selected winners in five categories, and visitors are asked to vote for their favorite entry to receive a "people's choice" award.

This year's entries ran the gamut from the 7-foot "Coastal Christmas," adorned with nautical decorations such as seashells and coral, to a small tree fashioned after the one featured in "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

"I like the Snoopy one. I've always been a big fan of Snoopy," said Jessica Vertz of Hagerstown.

Vertz, who attended the Festival of Trees for the first time Tuesday, said she brought her 3-year-old son because he is a "real train fanatic."

Although the festival is intended as a fundraiser, Pollack said the main goal is to draw in volunteers and potential donors.

"It's about introducing the hospital to the community," Pollack said.

Pollack said a specific goal for the money raised during this year's festival has not been named, but it will be used to help support a "variety of hospital programs."

In past years, the money raised has helped purchase nursery monitors, funded equipment and training for the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination program, and funded community health education, said hospital spokeswoman Nicole Jovel.




If you go



What: Festival of Trees

When: Through Saturday

Where: Hager Hall Conference and Event Center, 901 Dual Highway, Hagerstown

For information: www.antietamhealthcare.org/special_events.asp

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