The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

November 15, 2013

17th annual Festival of Trees ready to go

DANVILLE — No matter your age, something about the Festival of Trees brings out the child in everyone. The trees with colorful decorations, the twinkling lights, the aroma of fresh-baked cookies, the elves and whimsical characters all draw visitors into a fantasy world — one where dreams come alive.

With the theme “Wishes Come True,” the 17th annual Festival of Trees opens to the public Saturday and continues through Thursday, Nov. 21, at the David S. Palmer Arena. It’s presented by Presence United Samaritans Medical Center’s Foundation.

The highlight is the exhibition of more than 100 trees following the theme of “Wishes Come True,” sponsored by local businesses and trimmed by volunteers. Many other features are offered, including the Junior Parade of Trees, the Elfin Evergreens and Gingerbread Village, the children’s craft area, the Holiday Café, Gingerbread Bakery, the I Sing the Body Electric Showcase, entertainment, raffles and a Senior Hospitality Area.

At the raffle house, one of the attractions is a tree house built by students in Wade Anderson’s building trades class at Georgetown-Ridge Farm High School. The 6-foot by 6-foot one-room rustic structure was made out of wood taken from old barns; the tin roof and decorative tree on front also were from old barns. It has working porch lights, red gingham curtains in the windows, a sycamore door handle, arched doorway to the fenced-in area below and other unique features.

Some wood comes from turn-of-the-century barns, Anderson said, while other planks are newer, from the 1940s and ‘50s.

The 15 or so students from all classes spent about a month and a half building it.

“It was just a chalk drawing on the ground,” sophomore Lucas Barham said. “It turned out better than I thought.”

Sophomore Tylon Mills agreed that the tree house turned out better than he expected.

“I think it’s very extraordinary,” junior Michael Chittick added.

Anderson and his students have been donating houses for raffle to the festival for about 12 years or so, he said. He started in the 1990s when he worked at VOTEC.

“Wade gives from the heart,” said Debbie Michenfelder, who’s in charge of the raffle house. “The contributions that he gave … his time and the kids … I can’t say enough about Wade and all he’s done.”

The students make some type of play house every year, but the design varies. “That’s what makes it kind of cool,” Anderson said. This was the first year for a tree house.

Michenfelder praised Anderson’s vision, saying, “I take an idea to him and he knows what he’s going to do. He makes it come true.”

In addition to learning about construction, the project teaches the students about recycling old material and the importance of volunteering, Anderson said, among other lessons.

“It’s great for the kids,” he said.

Anderson added that the school doesn’t pay for anything; the projects made by the students bring in enough money to pay for the materials. The classes build all kinds of items, including wooden snowmen, chairs and patio furniture. Anyone with a request may call the school.

Tickets for the tree house are $5 each, with all the money going to Presence Foundation.

‘A great week’

As for the rest of the festival, event coordinator Angie Lazzell said, “It should be a great week.”

Last year, 15,473 people visited the festival — the highest number in its history, she said, adding, “That’s pretty good.”

She hopes the elf gathering — an attempt to set a world record on Sunday — will bring in more people this year.

One change this year is that the layout is flipped, with the stage on the west wall, for example, and the raffle area on the east side. Also, the wreaths will be on display closer to the stage instead of in the hallway.

Another difference this year, she said, is that the festival board is trying to engage a younger audience. Some of the organizers are younger, and that should bring a new perspective.

Some other changes are:

+ Rather than a stuffed animal tree, the traditional centerpiece of the arena will be a 22-foot tree made of donated books.

+ The revamped Festival Boutique will offer shoppers a new variety of gift items.

+ The Crystal Ball on Tuesday night moves to the main floor and takes the special event up a notch with a DJ, light show, and a Willy Wonka theme. Tickets are still available.

+ Festival After Hours. This adults-only event on Wednesday features food, beer, and wine sampling, games, plus music and dancing with the Chicago Blackhawks Band. Tickets are $20 each and are available.

The festival will close earlier on Tuesday and Wednesday night in preparation for those two evening events on the arena floor.

Special events

The event kicks off with two exclusive, invitation-only events: a Sponsors Appreciation Party tonight, and the annual preview gala on Friday night.

Saturday is Children’s Day, with free building projects for the kids, while supplies last. Lazzell said, “Plus we’ll have fudge samples, glitter tattoos, glass-blowing demonstrations, and great entertainment.” David Chicken, a high-energy, Emmy-award winning family entertainer will bring his interactive show to the festival stage on Saturday at 1 and 5 pm.

Sunday is the traditional Family Day, with free admission for children, veterans and military personnel. It’s also “Pickle Day,” where families search to find the six hidden pickle ornaments for a chance to win one of six prizes. Plus, families can enjoy free Papa Murphy’s pizza, while supplies last, and enjoy a balloon artist from noon to 3 p.m.

Monday and Tuesday, hundreds of school-age children will take tours with their classrooms throughout the arena. New this year, students will be treated to the reading of a special story around the Book Tree, and each teacher will receive a copy of the featured book “Snowmen at Night” in their packet of treats to take back to the classroom.

Wednesday is the day for the second annual Silver Bells bingo, a special ticketed event for guests 55 and older that includes brunch this year. Tickets are available.

The last day of the Festival will be Thursday, Nov. 21, in conjunction with the Night of Lights parade in Downtown Danville at 6:30 p.m., sponsored by Meijer. After the parade, all the floats will end at the arena, where guests can enjoy free hot chocolate. The successful food drive from last year returns, and, with a donation of a non-perishable food item; admission to the festival is free until 9 p.m.

The doors open at 3 p.m. on Thursday.

Some special ticketed events that are sold out are: Saturday’s Polar Express, the Ladies Luncheon, both seatings of the Princess Tea Party, and the Children’s Holiday Breakfast. All other special events still have ticket availability.

Festival hours

Saturday — 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Sunday — Noon to 8 p.m.

Monday — 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Tuesday and Wednesday —9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closes early for special event)

Thursday, Nov. 21 — 3-9 p.m. Admission is free with a non-perishable food donation.

For tickets

General admission tickets throughout the festival are $5 for adults, $3 for seniors 55 and older, $2 for children 3-12, and free for ages 2 and under. A Family Fun Pak of 15 admission tickets, good for any day, is $30. Tickets are available at the arena box office, by phone at (877) 77C-LICK, or online via


The 2013 Festival of Trees platinum sponsor is the Julius W. Hegeler II Foundation. Proceeds from the Festival of Trees benefits outreach programs of Presence United Samaritans Medical Center’s Foundation, such as I Sing the Body Electric, the HALO Project, Faith in Action, and Young Women/Men Aware.


Text Only
Local News
  • Police, Fire Reports

    August 22, 2014

  • Donate tennis shoes Sunday

    August 22, 2014

  • Tilton board approves new TIF district

    Village trustees took the first step Thursday toward enticing more economic development in the village by approving an agreement with Moran Economic Development of Edwardsville to create a second tax increment funding district.

    August 22, 2014

  • New program to help Hoopeston Area students

    Karla Coon, the director of Danville Area Community College's Hoopeston site, and high school principal Larry Maynard presented a new idea to the Hoopeston School Board at Thursday's meeting.

    August 22, 2014

  • Man to face trial on battery charges DANVILLE — A local man will be held over for trial in connection with allegations he severely abused an infant last month.Benjamin K. Smith, 25, of Oakwood, appeared in Vermilion County Circuit Court for an afternoon preliminary hearing on charges of

    August 22, 2014

  • Police Report Incidents reported to police include:DanvilleWednesdayA man arrested for disorderly conduct in the 1200 block of North Walnut Street.A man arrested for reckless driving in the 600 block of East Williams Street.Disorderly conduct in the 100 block of R

    August 22, 2014

  • Police step up traffic patrols around schools DANVILLE — Police are taking over the role of teachers beginning this week, using enforcement to remind drivers about the traffic laws around schools.It’s been almost three months since local students made the trek to school. With Danville District 1

    August 22, 2014

  • Fire Calls Firefighters responded to the following calls:Tuesday, 10:49-11 a.m. — A medical call in the 600 block of Plum Street.Tuesday, 1:55-3:02 p.m. — A gas leak reported at 2606 N. Vermilion St.Tuesday, 2:15-2:20 p.m. — A private alarm at the Village Mall,

    August 22, 2014

  • Police, Fire Reports

    August 21, 2014

  • NWS-CN 08-21 Bomb photo Bomb scare empties city block

    DANVILLE — Emergency personnel shut down a city block and evacuated several businesses following a suspicious package found along North Walnut Street.Danville police were contacted a little after 11:30 a.m. Wednesday after a black suitcase was discov

    August 21, 2014 1 Photo

Spring 2014 Photos

Buy these photos and more via Smugmug

AP Video
Furry Roommates: Dorms Allowing Cats and Dogs Chase Rice Defends Bro-Country 'Jersey Shore Massacre' Pokes Fun at MTV Series Raw: Wash. Mudslides Close Roads, Trap Motorists DC's Godfather of Go-Go Honored Ukraine Calls Russian Convoy a 'direct Invasion' Girl Meets Her 'one in the World' Match Coal Gas Boom in China Holds Climate Risks Japan Landslide Rescuers Struggle in Heavy Rain Raw: Severe Floods, Fire Wrecks Indiana Homes Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future Raw: Russian Aid Convoy Arrives in Ukraine Okla. Policeman Accused of Sex Assaults on Duty Dominican Republic Bans Miley Cyrus Concert Raw: Israeli Air Strike in Gaza Raw: Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in Malaysia Attorney: Utah Eatery Had Other Chemical Burn
NDN Video
School serves diabetic girl trashcan pizza Battle of the Butts at the 2014 MTV VMAs! Four-Year-Old Reviews Exclusive Restaurant's $295 Fixed Price Menu Mariah Orders Nick Cannon to Stay Quiet About Divorce Details U.S. Military Strategy Against ISIS The London Zoo holds its annual animal weigh-in VIDEO: Goliath Grouper eats shark in one bite Rapper Almost Walks Off CNN Over Ferguson Coverage 2 American Ebola Patients Released From Hospital Whoa! Jimmy Fallon Shaves Jared Leto's Beard US Mission to Rescue Hostages in Syria Failed Reggie Jackson's ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Amazing Encounter With Sea Otter Caught on Video Motorcyclist Sticks Landing Sicilian hilltop homes on sale for one euro Are Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon Breaking Up? Joel McHale Interviews Chelsea This 'Breaking Bad' Reunion is the Most Hilarious Thing You'll See All Day! President Obama talks about who James Foley was Nicki Minaj Unleashes Her 'Anaconda' On the World
Must Read