By Brooke Curley
SAFFORD – There’s nothing like a splendidly decorated forest of Christmas Trees.
The Festival of Trees is put on by the Saint Rose of Lima Church and is located inside its building at 311 S. Central Ave. The festival lasts from Saturday, Dec. 3, at 7 p.m. through Friday, Dec. 9. This year’s theme of the festival is “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.” One of the newer elements for this year’s festival is that not only will there be a $100 grand prize, and $25 honorable mention prize, but also a $50 best school entry prize.
Festival chairman Valerie Enriquez told Gila Valley Central that it is a massive group effort to put the festival together, with multiple parties working together for at least a week to bring about the festive event. However, Enriquez said she loved the effect the festival has on the community. .
“It’s a great way to bring the community together,” Enriquez said. “Everyone’s invited. It just keeps growing every year, and it’s something that kids love and something we do for the community.”
There are many different types of trees, and Enriquez said every type is welcome.
“Some are dedicating a tree for their loved ones,” she said. “We love to see the different themes on the different trees.”
Participation in the festival grew this year past the normal about of roughly 35 trees when some late entries arose. Every year, students from local districts visit the festival, and that number keeps growing as well.
“I think we have 2,400 students (who) go to the schools come,” Enriquez said. “It keeps growing. There’s more schools that contact me and more students each year.”
The festival is open to the public with free admittance. Anyone who wished to put their tree in was free to do so and, although there is a yearly theme, diversity and imagination are always appreciated and applauded.