Festival of Trees
Jordan Stowe - Managing Editor
Festival of Trees is an experience like none other. It starts on Wednesday November 29 through Saturday, December 2. In a 24-hour period, an empty hall transforms into a holiday winter wonderland of different decorated Christmas trees, wreaths, playhouses, centerpieces, quilts, and gingerbread houses. Shops are filled with dolls, handmade crafts and quilts, freshly baked cookies, candies, and endless assortment of freshly-made fudge, hot scones, and cinnamon rolls.
Funds raised at Festival of Trees are a “A Gift of Love” to the children at Primary Children’s Hospital. While the Festival of Trees lasts just four days, the spirit of this holiday tradition continues all year long in the hearts of those who volunteer and give to the Festival of Trees. Most importantly, it's the gift that keeps giving through the children who are cared for at Primary Children's Hospital.
The Festival of Trees was inspired 46 years ago by a group of 15 women from along the Wasatch Front. These women were challenged by Lewis M. Jones, Chairman of the hospital's Men's Endowment Board, to identify a way to raise funds for the hospital. Organized as the Women's Endowment Committee and led by Betty Wells, the group sold tickets to the Ice Capades and dabbled in other projects in an attempt to raise funds. They soon determined they had spent too much time and energy for too little return. They searched for one project they could devote all their efforts on. That project was inspired when Co-Chair, Ruth, Flint vacationed in Hawaii and attended a Christmas boutique featuring small, decorated Christmas trees, centerpieces, and Christmas decorations. The Women's Endowment Committee expanded the concept to include full-sized decorated Christmas trees, a gift boutique, and sweet shops. At that time, Primary Children's Hospital was owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and much of the support would come from church members.
That first year, there were approximately 60 trees for display and sale in the gymnasium of the old Armory off Sunnyside Avenue. To everyone's surprise and delight, $47,000 was raised! Today, the Festival of Trees is held at the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy, Utah. Over the years, this beautiful event has blossomed into a festival that spans over 220,000 square feet of display space.
Perhaps the greatest thing of all is that everything is donated. The trees are decorated and purchased by individuals, families, organizations, businesses, and church groups. In addition, others generously donate items to fill the shops. Businesses provide the paper and printing of posters and tickets. Thousands of people contribute countless hours and means to give “A Gift of Love" to children. In 2016, the Festival raised $2,622,903.88 for the children at Primary Children’s Hospital.
Over the years, Festival of Trees has been copied many times throughout the United States and Canada. However, the Salt Lake City Festival of Trees remains the "granddaddy" of them all.
The Primary Children's Hospital are appreciative to the people who donate their time and efforts into helping the children in need at their hospitals and other hospitals in the country. Through all of this the whole background of this is charity. Tis the season of service. The Lone Peak Newspaper challenges the students of Lone Peak to get out and help each person in the climb to their peak. It can be big or small.