Festival of Trees ushers in season

Marie McAvoy and Elsie Dalrymple peruse the decorated wreaths at the Montrose Area Adult School’s Festival of Christmas Trees held Saturday at St. Paul’s Church, Montrose.


The yuletide season kicked off Saturday at Montrose Area Adult School’s third annual Festival of Christmas Trees, held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Montrose.

Donated, decorated tabletop trees were offered up to the highest bidder in a silent auction. Proceeds from the event benefit the Adult School’s Scholarship fund.

Mary Lee Fitzgerald, one of the founder’s of the Adult School, said the Festival and it gets bigger and better every year with more entries and more participants. 

Montrose Adult School’s basketry instructor Charles Ahearn delighted Festival goers with his live tree decorated with hand-made baskets and ornaments. Ahearn’s entry garnered the highest bid at the third annual Festival of Christmas Trees.

Fitzgerald said the highest bid at this year’s event was for a marvelous, live, blue spruce from Jeffers Tree Farm. The tree was decorated with hand-made baskets and ornaments made by Charles Ahearn who teaches the art of basketry for the Adult School. The tree fetched $95 in the silent auction.

“Another spectacular entry was from the Hill Country Artists,” Fitzgerald said. The group project, entitled “Christmas at the Shore” featured a three-foot tall lighthouse surrounded by shells and sand.

“And for the first time, we had an entry from a school group: the End of Day students from Lathrop Street School,” said Fitzgerald.

Hill Country Artists created a three-foot tall lighthouse surrounded by shells and sand. The entry was entitled, “Christmas at the Shore.” PHOTO COURTESY OF PHILIPPA FOLLERT

The students “Winter Wonderland” tree came complete with a Christmas card signed by all of the children.

Fitzgerald said, “Absolutely all the entries were wonderfully creative – from the JDE Hair Tree;  Cornelia Page’s “Greetings from the Shore;” a tree covered with shells she had collected last summer at Cape Cod; and Janis Schimskey’s jewelry tree.”

In addition to those offerings, Tom and Diane Docherty took a live tree from their property and decorated it with photographs (taken by Tom) of Montrose buildings that were reduced in size, paper framed and hung on the tree.

Eileen Myer created miniature paper beads from old church bulletins and used them to decorate a tree.

These are wonderful holiday trees to use in your home or to take to friends who can no longer create their own tree or to give as gifts, said Fitzgerald.

It’s also a great group project for families. For this year’s festival, Kathryn and Elizabeth Lathrop made a “Gingerbread Tree” with their grandmother, Mary Ann DeWitt; Lisa Caterson and her niece created “The Golden Years”.

Organizations also contributed to the holiday cheer. Montrose Chapter 151 of the Eastern Star submitted their creation, “Stars,” to the benefit auction.

More than $1,300 was raised for the Adult School’s scholarship fund. Adult school co-founder Philippa Follert said the event not only publicizes the school but it also “Helps make people aware we do have scholarships available for those who want to take classes but need financial assistance.”

Fitzgerald said, “We would like to express our thanks to Randy Webster for providing background Christmas music and Betty Bryden for once again creating a lovely poster that found its way all around town.”

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