MARYSVILLE – Do you have sticker price shock at the price of trees this Christmas?
If you think $100 or so is bad, try $5,000 to $30,000.
“Every single penny goes to children,” said Susie Black, event coordinator.
That’s what high bidders were expected to pay at Friday night’s Festival of Trees gala at the Tulalip Resort Casino. Some of the trees go to their homes, and others are donated to their workplaces or a charitable organization.
The Providence Hospital Foundation was hoping to beat last year’s $1.3 million raised during the weeklong event.
Over the 33 years of the event, $11 million has been raised, said Jennifer Coyle, event manager. Sponsors pay in the neighborhood of $300,000, plus there are in-kind donations of around $40,000.
Coyle said a record-breaking 500 people attended Tuesday’s opening night, which included a buffet dinner, music and auction. There was a silent auction, centerpieces were sold, and there was a paddle raising giving event. More than $76,000 was raised.
About 700 people were expected for Friday night’s gala, where the trees are auctioned off. Designers made up 16 trees, along with a classic table setting and six wreaths.
The event concludes Saturday morning with about 600 people attending a Teddy Bear Breakfast.
Money raised goes to the Children’s Center and Emergency Department at Providence. This year trees also were going to four other locations: Dawson’s Place, Cocoon House, Hospice and Pediatrics.
“It makes them feel good,” Black said of bidders who bought trees to help those groups.
Wednesday was Community Day, when the public could attend the festivities for free.
“I love this event,” Black said. “It’s all about the community.”
She said it seemed like there were more people there than in the past.
“More people know about it,” she said.
Black likes it because she sees people of all ages, from kids to grandparents. Local retirement centers bring residents over by van to enjoy the trees and music, such as the Arlington Jazz Choir that performed that afternoon.
Coyle said hundreds of people volunteer during the week.
“They make this event possible,” she said.
Some of the volunteers stood watch over the trees, like Seth Montero, a freshman at Marysville-Pilchuck High School. He’s in the Navy Junior ROTC program. He had never been to the Festival of Trees before.
Riley Dix, 4, of Arlington was there with her grandma, Karen Dix-Colony of Arlington. They and many others were making a variety of crafts, including a reindeer with an elf hat that was made with items for hot chocolate.
One of the more-popular sections of trees was all about critters. Stuffed animals that would eventually go to children at the hospital decorated those trees. Visitors got to vote on which one they liked the most.
Volunteer Kiana Hartley was dressed in costume for the Harry Potter-themed tree she was guarding.