Sunday, November 11, 2007

Preparing for Festival of the Trees

This was the first of several days during which Festival of the Trees prepares for its Friday night, black-tie gala in the atrium, lobbies, and major passways of the State Museum. Alex and I went to set up "The Blues"...both my tree and his "table top" decoration. There were hundreds of volunteers, donors, and hospital staff people on hand. Last year's event raised over $216,000. Everything remains on display through the weekend. 7,000 people walked through last year. For our donations, we get tickets...which otherwise cost $125 a piece. Television stations cover it. Local celebrities and politicians attend. St. Joseph's choirs sing Christmas carols to to arriving guests. There's valet parking, top shelf liquor, and specialty dishes from area restaurants. Photos with Santa Claus are always fun and it feels like a Christmas party on a movie set. It's all a very big deal.

(Above: Detail of The Blues, a Christmas tree based on my "Blues Chapel" installation. Below: Alex's table top decoration also based on The Blues".)

As high-class as this event is, Alex and I contribute for another reason. The charity is Children's Hospital. Over the years, the foundation has raised the money to improve the critical care unit...a place where Mathias spent his first Christmas. He had skull surgery at six months of age. We are all forever in Children's Hospital's debt.

Of course, there's a lot of "one-up-manship" going on between corporate sponsors. Many of the trees are totally "over the top"...but still mainly decorated with "made in China" ornaments bought wholesale in huge quantities at "market"...the wholesale establishments in Atlanta or North Carolina. Alex and I have always gone for "unique" and "handcrafted"...and the tree is generally on the main entryway...the red carpet. It's there again this year...which made me a little nervous. "The Blues" Christmas tree isn't terribly big. It doesn't rotate on a mechanical device and doesn't include thousands of dollars of "extra" gifts....but it doesn't look like anyone else's creation.

These images are mainly of other donors setting up their trees

(Above: Donated wreathes waiting to be hung in the windows.)

(Above: One of the wreaths already hanging. Below: Volunteers and staff people in the atrium with people setting up trees in the overlooking second floor area.)

(Below: Looking down on the pedestals on which the bidding sheets are held. Each wreathe, tree, and table top decoration has a bidding sheet.)

(Below: One of the most creative trees seen thus rackets and dyed tennis balls. The man who made it is also an artist...and the father of a girl with muscular dystrophy who has been treated for nearly 20 years at Children's Hospital.)


Wanda said... IS that time of year again. Nutcracker trees. Where does time go? You are always so busy. I bet you would have loved to be here with me on Saturday. I was off and spent about 8 hours just stitching. OK, I did end up with a headache...those petite glass beads are pretty small. I am using those needles you got for me...I'm pretty good at threading a needle but I can't even see the holes on those! I have to cheat!!!
As always...I'm surely your biggest fan!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for virtually taking me through this entire project. I feel as if I was there with you! The event is so exciting. I'm glad Alex' tree sold at a good price. Yours had so many things on it that will sell for much more as individual pieces. They were lovely (as was your tree). I'm so glad I got to see the finished piece. Mom