The stories behind the trees are the heart and soul of the Holiday Tree Festival. For 36 years people have been inspired to decorate and donate trees to support Akron Children’s Hospital for a variety of reasons, and Megan Mullet’s first grade students are no exception.
After one of her students, Austin Kurtz, had to miss the first couple weeks of the school year while he recovered from a skin graft at Akron Children’s Burn Institute, Megan and her class wanted a way to show their support for their student and friend.
“We were missing him and I’ve attended the Holiday Tree Festival the last couple years with my family, so I knew it supported the place where Austin went for his treatment,” Megan said. “I thought this was a way we could show support for his family so that they could see what we’re with them in their journey.”
Megan asked Austin’s mom for ideas of hobbies he enjoys and found out that one of Austin’s favorite things to do is go fishing with his dad. So the class decided to name their tree Gone Fishin’ in honor of Austin and decorate it with bobbers, fishing poles and more.
“Every kid got to contribute to the tree in some way,” Megan said.
The Berlin Elementary School class made a different ornament each day the week before Holiday Tree Festival set-up, with parents volunteering to come in and help craft.
“I think Austin is excited, he calls it ‘his tree’ so he definitely has ownership in it,” Megan said with a laugh. “He’s doing really well, the things Akron Children’s has been able to do for him is amazing.”
Gone Fishin’ will be on display with more than 160 other trees at this year’s Holiday Tree Festival. You can visit the festival for free at the John S. Knight Center from Nov. 18-26. For more information, click here.