12th annual Festival of Trees starts this weekend
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
With double locations, activities, and treats, it’s time in Grayling for the Festival of Trees.
The Grayling Promotional Association (GPA) is hosting the 12th annual Festival of Trees in the Grayling Mini-Mall. The Bearly Used Christmas Store, run in conjunction with the Festival of Trees, is located at 108 E. Michigan Avenue, where AuSable Fabrics and More was located.
Fifty-four trees decorated by area businesses and organizations, 26 gift baskets, and a couple of wreaths will be on display and available through the Festival of Trees this year, said Gail Swope, chairwoman for the Festival of Trees committee.
Tree viewers can buy a ticket for $2 each or six for $10, then place their tickets in the container by the tree or basket for a chance to win that tree or basket.
“All of that money goes back into Grayling,” Swope said.
The Festival of Trees is the largest fundraiser the GPA holds throughout the year, stretching over two weeks. The pre-holiday promotion also provides businesses and organizations with an outreach to promote the goods and services they have to offer.
“We just want to bring the community together and we want to help local businesses,” Swope said. “It’s a good way to see what is available in town, and to enjoy that, and to get a start on the Christmas season.”
Festival of Trees runs from Saturday, Nov. 11, through Saturday, Nov. 25. The hours are 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.
Santa Claus will pay a visit to the Festival of Trees from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11, for youth to visit and submit their Christmas wish lists.
“I love opening day and Santa Claus will be here that day,” Swope said. “It’s fun to see the kids’ reactions when they see all of the trees.”
The Festival of Trees offers an opportunity for the community to get in the Christmas spirit.
“It’s really pretty when you come in and see how everybody has done their trees differently,” Swope said.
Since launching the Festival of Trees in 2005, the price for raffle tickets has remained at $2 and there are no plans to increase the cost to keep the event open to as many people as possible in the community.
“We’ve had people buy one ticket they have won the tree,” Swope said.
In conjunction with Grayling’s Christmas Walk, which will be held on Saturday, Nov. 18, the Festival of Trees will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
There was no space for the Bearly Used Christmas Store in the Grayling Mini-Mall this year. The store for this season is located downtown in a building owned by Judy and Tom Steffen. The Bearly Used Christmas Store features Christmas items donated by individuals to help with the community projects and programs GPA supports.
GPA member Kathy Batha is pleased that the store with have a presence in the downtown business district.
“It’s a very nice space,” Batha said. “We will be right there for the Christmas Walk Saturday afternoon and Saturday evening and we’ll be part of that. The downtown is recuperating and we are enlivening it a little and we’re excited about it.”
The hours for the store are noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Both Festival of Trees locations will be closed on Thanksgiving Day to encourage community members to spend the day with their family and friends.
The drawing of raffle tickets for the trees and gift baskets will be held starting at noon on Sunday, Nov. 26.