Every year Boys and Girls Club Director Elaine Stedman worries that there will be no trees for the annual Parade of Trees that has helped raise programming funds for the club every year for 18 years.
It’s the same worry for every organizer of every event ever, including, the famous Fairview Festival of Trees, which is also gearing up for 2020 this week.
Every year, however, a generous community of artists and other creative folks prove these organizers wrong, and affirm once again an important truth about the Sidney, Fairview, and greater Richland County community.
This year, it’s not going to be any different. Never mind the fact it is a pandemic year. A pandemic is not going to stop the creative, crafty-minded, big-hearted residents of Richland County and surrounding areas from once again turning their amazing talents and their Christmas spirit into a powerful force for good in the community.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Parade of Trees and the Festival of Trees are on for 2020, and they are going to be beautiful.
Of course, a few things this year are a little different for each event than in year’s past. They will be largely virtual, contactless experiences. But, you will still be able to enjoy both of them immensely with your family, while at the same time helping worthy community causes.
Parade of Trees
This year’s Parade of Trees, first of all, will be displayed downtown in the windows of the Yellowstone Marketplace on South Central Avenue in Sidney. That way people can view them in a contactless experience, if they wish.
“That will really dress up the downtown, too,” Stedman said.
Bidding for the Parade of Trees, meanwhile, will be done electronically by phone or computer. To make a bid, simply text BGCtrees20 to 76278 on a smart phone, or visit the bidding site online with your computer at BGCtrees20.givesmsart.com.
The Parade of Trees was actually using online bidding well before the pandemic. All the tools were already in place to make this year’s auction completely virtual.
“We found our virtual events attracted a whole new audience than the live event,” Stedman said. “That was interesting to us, and so, even going forward, I think we will probably still continue to have a virtual event. It just attracts different people.”
You’ll find, of course, a lot of things besides trees in this year’s Parade of Trees. There’s for one, an outdoor gnome display coming, and there are also reportedly a lot of amazing, creative holiday wreathes coming as well.
Each grade level cohort for the Boys and Girls Club are making pallet trees for the event. The cohort with the highest bid wins a pizza party, so get ready for the battle of the grandparents. The kids have already been lining up their champions.
Stedman, for one, has been put on notice by her first-grade grand-daughter Bryndi Stedman that she is on the hook to bid and bid high for a certain red, white, and blue pallet tree.
There will be about five of these coveted Boys and Girls Club creations, along with what the region’s artists and artisans prepare.
Stedman said some people work on what they will do for the Parade of Trees all year long, and that has resulted in some amazing creations in the past.
Among these was a Grinch tree, an old-fashioned tree, and even one done all in owls, which Stedman has in her living room.
This year, in addition to the online bidding, there will be an online vote for best of show. The winner of that will get a plaque to display with their trees.
Other events Boys and Girls Club are doing include Social Distancing with Santa, the replacement for the annual Breakfast with Santa, which will be from 9 to 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 27 at the LYREC Lower Yard, 2900 W. Holly Street.
Santa will wear a mask for the event, which is in a large building, so that people can remain spread out. A few will be let in at a time for their photos with Santa — 6 feet apart.
Donuts have also been provided by Reynolds Market for the event.
“It’s a year to remember,” Stedman said, “So, we might as well make fun of it.”
The Children’s Christmas Shop will be from 8 a.m. to noon Dec. 5 at the LYREC Lower Yellowstone as well. For this event, each child gets to go in and shop for gifts for their parents for a mere $5 each.
“The kids walk out with a lot more than $5 of merchandise, of course,” Stedman said. “It’s a community service. It’s open to all kids, not just ours.”
Each child should bring a list of their immediate family members with ages and genders of their siblings.
Masks will be required, and parents may not accompany the children. Occupancy of the space is being limited to 25 people, including staff and volunteers, at any one time.
Fairview Festival of Trees starts soon
This year’s Festival of Trees will be held virtually at the Fairview Community Foundation Facebook page. The donated trees and wreathes and other items will all be posted to that page for bidding.
They will also be available for viewing in person at 407 S. Ellery Avenue in Fairview, which is the old video store.
The theme for the event this year is trees and wreathes. But, of course, the creations won’t be limited to just that. Auction items will be available in all shapes and sizes, just as they have been in year’s past.
Bidding on the trees will begin Wednesday, Nov. 25 and close at noon Sunday, Nov. 29, at the Foundation’s Facebook page. The donation with the highest bid will get a traveling trophy to display for a year.
There will be a few other options for bidding if you do not have Facebook. For details on that or to ask questions, contact Mel Hurley, 480-0184, or Trish Buxbaum, 489-0390.
Winning bidders are to pick up and pay for their item from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29 at 407 S. Ellery Avenue.
To make a donation to the Festival of Trees, take pictures or make a video of your donation and submit that to the Fairview Community Foundation Facebook page by Nov. 24. They must also be delivered between the hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to 407 S. Ellery Avenue in Fairview.