Welcome, holidays

Mary Wicoff|Commercial-NewsJudy Underwood, left, and Jackie Feingold decorate a tree for the Hyster-Yale group in preparation for the Festival of Trees. Also helping that day was Jin Qiu; designers were Feingold, Underwood and Sherry Hayn. FEstival of Trees begins its annual run on Saturday at Danville's David S. Palmer Arena.

DANVILLE — The 22nd Festival of Trees heralds the arrival of the holiday season, with dozens of twinkling trees, warm cookies, local talent and a chance to win big prizes.

The event opens Saturday at the David S. Palmer Arena, 100 W. Main St., and continues through Wednesday. It’s sponsored by OSF HealthCare Sacred Heart Medical Center, with the theme “Let Heaven and Nature Sing.”

Featured attractions include the themed trees and showcases on the arena floor, the Junior Parade of Trees, Elfin Evergreens and Gingerbread Village, children’s craft area, Holiday Café, Gingerbread Bakery, festival stage, Main Street Raffle House and the senior hospitality area.

“To bring families back year after year, we want to bring back the favorites they love, and also give them new experiences,” said Angie Lazzell, Festival of Trees event coordinator. “We’ve got a schedule full of fun and exciting events, activities and entertainment for everyone.”

At the raffle area, the highlight is a playhouse made by students in the building trades class at Georgetown-Ridge Farm High School, under the supervision of teacher Wade Anderson.

The 9-foot by 5-foot house was made with lumber from a 1950s barn, although the floor is new. The metal roof came from another barn, Anderson said.

About 20 students from all grades helped with the design and built the structure. Anderson tries to find different ideas each year, and the students incorporate their own suggestions.

“When they see something from start to finish, it inspires them to do better,” he said, “and see the vision for their next project.”

Carnaghi Towing donated its service to haul the house from Georgetown to the arena, and also will deliver the house to the lucky family that buys the winning ticket. Raffle tickets for the house and some larger items are $5.

Other raffle tickets are two for $5 and five for $10.

Debbie Michenfelder, major gifts officer at OSF HealthCare Foundation, said the raffle committee is probably the only festival group that works all year to find items.

“This community is such a giving community,” she said. “When focused on getting funds for the hospital, we all come together.”

This year, all festival proceeds will go toward buying 3D mammography equipment for the Women’s Health Center at the hospital.

With the focus on preventing or detecting breast cancer, the “Paws for a Cause” tree in the arena’s center has pink lights and pink stuffed animals this year. People may buy their own Build a Bear or other stuffed animal for $20 to support the Women’s Health Center. Or a buyer may want to donate one to OSF Children’s Hospital of Illinois or other local children in need.

Michenfelder said the pink-themed tree has a personal meaning for her, as her sister is struggling with cancer.

“Everybody has been touched by cancer,” she said. “That’s why we come together.”

The raffle committee, which has seven or eight members, solicited donations for baskets, with various themes. For the first time, the committee approached OSF departments, and was pleased when seven departments agreed to put together baskets for the raffle.

A variety of items is being raffled, including a girls’ basket, Legos basket, wine chillers, grilling items, furniture, Lotto tickets and a money tree worth $500.

Platinum sponsor for the festival is the Julius W. Hegeler II Foundation and diamond sponsor is Iroquois Federal.

FYI

• General admission tickets and special event tickets are available at the David S. Palmer Arena box office, by phone at (800) 514-3849 or online at https://palmerarena.com.

• For special event details or more information, visit the event Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/festivaloftreesdanville

• Volunteers are still needed for a variety of duties throughout the event. Call the volunteer line at (217) 213-4490 and leave a message or email Mary McMillan, volunteer chairperson, at mcmillanm@danville118.org.