Truth Behind Festival of Trees: Easter Seals Mission to Make a DifferenceNovember 15, 2017 9:54 pm
Numerous events strive to “bring the community together,” but few achieve this task the way Easter Seals and the Blennerhassett Hotel do each holiday season with their Festival of Trees. Through our partnership with Easter Seals, the Blennerhassett brings the community together to gaze at beautiful trees, create memories and give back to others. Traditions make the holidays special for everyone, and Festival of Trees has become a tradition for the hotel and the community.
During the holidays, thousands of people from around the area travel to downtown Parkersburg to be a part of Festival of Trees. The event has become a key part of the city’s holiday season and is ranked number four on Only in West Virginia’s “11 Christmas Light Displays in West Virginia That are Pure Magic.” The Blennerhassett has become a holiday hub for residents and the festival benefits the community through its partnership with Easter Seals.
Local businesses and community members are quick to reserve spots in the festival, as decorating these trees has become a tradition for many of them. While the event is entitled “Festival of Trees,” other holiday decorations are welcomed, too. “The Blennerhassett Hotel can accommodate 30 trees and this year we are at capacity! We also have 11 wreaths and one mantel piece to date,” said Melissa Marco, Community Relations Director for the West Virginia Chapter of Easter Seals.
Through events such as the Festival of Trees, Easter Seals truly makes an impact not only in our local community, but across their network of chapters that spreads nationwide. Easter Seals provides resources and assistance to people with disabilities and their families and have never turned away someone needing help who lacked resources to pay for their care. Fundraising events and support from local communities are vital to their efforts.
Easter Seals offers speech, physical and occupational therapy, medical services, birth to three and works with local schools. “With the need for our services growing each year, fundraisers such as the Festival of Trees are essential to our facility. This event is the second largest event we do, just behind the telethon. Without the partnership of the Blennerhassett Hotel, this event would not be possible,” Marco said.
Each year, Easter Seals holds a telethon to obtain donations for their cause, and this past year, they featured a 14-year-old who made progress through the Easter Seals program. “When he first started working with Easter Seals, he could barely lift himself out of his wheelchair. Each session he improved, and for the Telethon taping, he was able to take 44 steps. There was not a dry eye in the Center as we watched this young man achieve a goal he had set for himself with the help of his therapists,” Marco said.
Not only is the Festival of Trees an exciting and important event for Easter Seals and the Blennerhassett, but it also for the community. Many members of the community, such as Kiki Angelos, make the Festival of Trees an essential part of their holiday season. “I have multiple trees each year. I know a year in advance what the ‘theme’ of my trees will be and I spend all year planning,” Angelos said.
Everything about Festival of Trees is local and community-based. After the community views the trees, wreaths and other holiday pieces, an auction will be held on Dec. 7 for guests to bid on their favorite items. All proceeds from the auction will benefit Easter Seals in their mission to serve children and families throughout the area.
“By far the best part is the community coming together for a wonderful cause! The community support is absolutely amazing – people give of their time, talent and funds to help raise money for children and adults living with disabilities throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley. This event is unique, for all the money stays local,” Marco said.
Viewing of the trees will be in the Blennerhassett Hotel promenade and lobby from Wednesday, Nov. 15 through Thursday, Dec. 7, leading up to the auction. The live auction will begin on Dec. 7 at 7:00 p.m. with the silent auction and cash bar beginning at 6:00 p.m. Tickets to the auction are $30 per person and can be purchased in advance or at the door.
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