With a medley of seasonal decorations and magical trees on display, it’s easy to get caught up in the sparkling details of Akron Children’s Hospital’s 34th annual Holiday Tree Festival. In fact, decorators spend hours carefully crafting every detail to bring not only beauty to the branches, but also meaning.
Details found in trees like Douglas Haines’ speak volumes about a loved one’s passion through its eye-appealing colors and accents.
“Every year we’d bring our aunt to the festival because it made her feel like a princess,” said decorator Douglas Haines. “This year our tree is dedicated to her memory and is a celebration of her life. She loved her garden, especially lilies, so I’ve tried to capture the beauty of her garden in our tree.”
Haines is no stranger to the Festival. He’s been decorating trees for the event for nearly 12 years. This year, his tree is part of the festival’s raffle table display, which allows visitors to purchase tickets for a chance to win it.
His display, “Spring into Christmas,” features a tree that boasts a pastel wonderland of hydrangeas, lilies and roses. Flanked alongside the tree are two garden chairs, a tea cart and a statue of silk flowers to provide a stunning, tranquil garden retreat for the holidays.
Other trees like Akron METRO Regional Transit Authority (RTA)’s give new meaning to evergreen tree by using recycled materials to create an environmentally-friendly tree.
“The nature of our business is environmentally friendly because we take cars off the road so we wanted our tree to reflect that same environmental idea,” said Jessica Dreschel, communications specialist for Akron METRO RTA. “Since we started decorating trees for the festival in 2011, we’ve always used recycled items. We’ve used bus advertisement frames, newspapers, men’s ties, CDs and now denim.”
This year, the team used 35 pairs of old blue jeans, hundreds of pins, a handful of worn leather belts and spent hours cutting, washing and placing denim strips to create a one-of-a-kind ‘evergreen’ tree.
While the environment is important to Akron METRO RTA so is giving back. METRO’s involvement with the Tree Festival started after its staff answered phones at the hospital’s radiothon.
“We kept hearing peoples’ stories of how the hospital helped their loved ones and it was very touching to us,” said Dreschel. “We wanted to do more and the Tree Festival was a great way for us to get our whole team involved – from donating materials to offering design input….It’s a real treat to participate each year.”
Take a closer look at the meaning behind the trees at the Holiday Tree Festival now through Nov. 29 at the John S. Knight Center in downtown Akron. Hours are Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Thanksgiving, 2 to 6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is always free.