Lions Club brightens the season |

Lions Club brightens the season

Bob Boynton
Special to the Sky-Hi News

The 13th Annual Festival of Trees, sponsored by the Fraser River Valley Lions Club was held last Friday night, Dec. 2 at the Grand Park Community Recreation Center. More than 800 people enjoyed beautiful trees, wreaths, and Hanukkah items decorated by 31 local non-profit organizations. This year's attendance broke last year's record.

The 23 trees, seven wreaths, and Hanukkah items decorated by local non-profit organizations earned virtually the same amount as last year's record– just under $12,000. Combined with earnings from the Favorite Tree contest and donations, participating non-profit organizations will divide up close to $15,000 from this year's event. All this is possible due to the generosity of local businesses and residents who support the Festival and the non-profit organizations who participate.

One hundred ninety-two (192) children were thrilled to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus and submit their Christmas wish list. Thirty (30) sumptuous desserts donated by local pastry chefs were eagerly bid on by Festival visitors and dozens of wonderful holiday wood carvings by Bill Browne were purchased by attendees. Bill Browne's on-going contribution to the Festival was recognized this year with the creation of a memorial scholarship in his name for a Middle Park High School student planning to study art or another creative discipline in college. Visitors to this year's Festival generously contributed to the scholarship. Uncle Bill, as he was affectionately known to family and friends, left the Lions Club with his final carvings so the 2017 Festival will continue to offer his work.

The "Fraser Valley Year Round Fun Package" raffle was won by Leah Bishop. The prize was valued at over $1,600 and included golf, a sleigh ride, restaurant gift certificates, hot air balloon rides, a snow cat tour, and an ATV rental. The money raised by this raffle will be donated back to the community via the Lion's annual grant program for local non-profits.

Attendees chose their favorite trees by purchasing tickets and using them as votes for the tree they liked best. All money paid for the tickets is returned to the participating non-profits. The top vote getter was the tree decorated by Eagles Nest Wilderness Ranch (488 votes). National Sports Center for the Disabled's tree got 271 votes and garnered 2nd place. The tree decorated by the Board of Realtors for Mountain Family Center was chosen as the 3rd favorite with 167 votes. The Lions Club also awarded a cash prize to the top 3 trees.

A team of Lions members delivered the 23 trees Saturday morning, bringing cheer to their buyers in Grand Lake, Granby, Tabernash, Fraser, and Winter Park. Four tree and wreath buyers truly embraced the Christmas spirit and donated their purchases to deserving families in the county.

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The Festival of Trees has become one of the—if not the –favorite holiday event in Grand County. If you didn't get there this year, don't miss next year. Admission is always free.

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