Tree fest marks 10 years

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WESTBROOK – It has been 10 years since 18 decorated trees represented the humble beginnings of what would grow into a local phenomenon.

A decade later, there will be 47 festively adorned evergreens at Westbrook’s 10th annual Festival of Trees. The event kicks off Saturday at Westbrook-Warren Congregational Church at 810 Main St.

The 47 trees are not record setting; according to festival founder Pat Wilson, there were 50 trees one year. However, she remains impressed local businesses continue to show support during trying economic circumstances.

Wilson said the event has really captured the community’s imagination and become a staple of the holiday season. The eight-day Festival of Trees has raised thousands of dollars for local charities and causes, she said.

Admission to the festival is free, with the exception of the Festival Feast and Tips for Charity Luncheon. At the latter event, local celebrities such as Mayor Colleen Hilton and police Chief Bill Baker wait on guests in exchange for tips that go to various causes.

“The money doesn’t leave Westbrook,” Wilson said of the fundraiser’s local impact.

Donations and contributions from those events support the Westbrook-Warren Congregational Church, the Westbrook Food Pantry and the Good Samaritan Fund, she said.

Raffle tickets are also available for the Mystery Gift Tree for $10 apiece. Anyone who enters is guaranteed to win a prize worth at least twice that amount, Wilson said.

Other festival attractions include tea parties, breakfast with Santa, dance and music performances and religious services. Paul Corbett, of the Maine Garden Railway Society, will have his miniature railroad on display every day of the festival except Dec. 8.

The week-long Westbrook Festival of Trees, organized by members of at the Westbrook-Warren Congregational Church, kicks off Saturday at 8:30 a.m. with Breakfast with Santa. Teams from local businesses and organizations have been busy this week decorating sponsored Christmas trees at the church for display during the festival. Here, almost as well decorated as the tree, Sharon Gallant of Windham adds a streamer of angels to a tree sponsored by the Portland Spiritualist Church.Photo by Rich Obrey

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