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July 16, 2014

New holiday event to come to downtown Rochester

DDA looking for residents, businesses, organizations to design trees

By Mary Beth Almond
C & G Staff Writer

ROCHESTER — A new event will kick off the holiday season in downtown Rochester this year.

Held Nov. 21-13 at the Rochester Community House, the Downtown Rochester Festival of Trees is a new holiday spectacular where trees, wreaths, stockings and more are decorated and designed by members of the community and then sold as a fundraiser for the Big, Bright Light Show.

“Rochester loves tradition,” said Festival of Trees Committee member Linda Lucaj, who owns Main Street Deli. “The Big, Bright Light Show — along with so many of our events — has become a tradition, and I think the Festival of Trees is going to be another one of those. It’s a town that really relishes in creating traditions with their family.”

Many organizations host festival of tree events as fundraisers, according to Kristi Trevarrow, executive director of the Rochester Downtown Development Authority.

“We couldn’t figure out how a festival of trees event worked, because there are a lot of organizations that are bringing in substantial dollars. What we discovered is, for instance, if a tree was decorated as a broadway tree, instead of just being decorated that way, it would also include tickets to local shows at local theaters, things like that — so there are added values to the trees,” she said.

The DDA is currently looking for volunteers and businesses to artistically decorate trees, as well as sponsors to donate items to decorate trees with. Those interested are encouraged to attend the upcoming Festival of Trees information workshop 6:30-8 p.m. Aug. 11 at the Royal Park Hotel to learn more about the event and view some decorating demonstrations. 

“We do need to get the word out to start getting people on board if they want to participate in the event,” said Trevarrow. “Our goal is to have 50 trees that are designed in different themes and sponsored by other organizations, businesses and things like that.”

The Downtown Rochester Festival of Trees will begin with a pre-show cocktail mixer Nov. 21 — where the trees will be up for auction for the first time. Then, on Saturday and Sunday, the event will open to the public to see everything and purchase trees, auction items, wreaths, stockings and anything else available.

Following the Festival of Trees, the DDA will kick off the 52nd annual Lagniappe — along with the Big, Bright Light Show — on Monday, Nov. 24, one week prior to its usual starting date.

“It’s a big change because it has been the same for over 40 years,” Trevarrow said of the date switch. “The lights will be on for Thanksgiving weekend now.”

“I think this is a stronger kickoff to the Big, Bright Light Show,” Lucaj added.

Anyone interested in designing a tree for the Festival of Trees or sharing ideas for the event is asked to contact Trevarrow at (248) 656-0060. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/rochesterfestivaloftrees.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Mary Beth Almond at malmond@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1060.