“My husband and I have donated a tree to the Euharlee Festival of Trees every year since we moved to Euharlee five years ago,” Smithey said. “It’s become a family event for us. ... My husband organizes a group of equine enthusiasts and rides …
“My husband and I have donated a tree to the Euharlee Festival of Trees every year since we moved to Euharlee five years ago,” Smithey said. “It’s become a family event for us. ... My husband organizes a group of equine enthusiasts and rides one of our horses in the parade. On opening night, we donate the services of one of our professional singing quartets from our organization, The Atlanta Carolers. They will be singing Christmas carols while dressed in period Victorian clothing as visitors peruse the trees in the Granary. I will be singing with this quartet. This is the first year we have been involved with two trees for the festival: the Excel students’ Harry Potter tree and our Three Wise Men tree.
“It gives us great joy to offer a little help to those volunteers who tirelessly work hundreds of hours throughout the year to achieve their singular goal of sharing the joy of Christmas with our neighbors. ... We were drawn to the all-volunteer event because of its quaint and humble ability to draw the community together to celebrate the beauty and meaning of Christmas while providing presents for needy children right here in our own town. It makes this close knit community very special to us.”
On Saturday, the festivities will get underway with the Euharlee Festival of Trees Christmas Parade featuring various unconventional means of transportation, such as decorated riding lawn mowers, motorcycles, bicycles, golf carts, floats and trailers. While all entrants younger than 12 need to be accompanied by an adult, youth younger than 16 must have parental supervision when riding a powered vehicle other than a riding lawn mower. There is no fee to participate and pre-registration is not required.
Parade participants will start lining up at Woodland Middle School, 1061 Euharlee Road, at 4:30 p.m. Departing at 5:30 p.m., the procession will end at the Euharlee Covered Bridge for the beginning of the 14th annual Euharlee Festival of Trees.
“We have an awesome group of volunteers who help make the [Euharlee Festival of Trees] possible every year,” said Kathy Bibbings, founder of the event’s presenter, Just Believe Christmas for Kids. “This year we started back in the spring putting out some donated items from last year. We asked that all who wanted to decorate their own trees get them in by the end of October or no later than [the] first week of November.
“The weeks leading up to the event get a bit hectic as we have to do final clean up, put down the ‘snow’ and get all signage and any fliers we may want to pass out. ... All our volunteers are very happy to help and some have been volunteers for eight [to] 10 years. It’s such a magical event, it’s hard not to take part.”
She continued, “... Our first night, we have hundreds of visitors. It is very difficult for everyone to see everything there is to see. Lots of visitors come back several times during the week in order to really capture the full experience of the magic. Our weekends are filled with children, parents and some animals as well coming to have a picture taken with Santa. We do several pictures of each family at no charge and upload them to our Facebook page so they can make any copies they choose.”
Through Dec. 10, the Festival of Trees — located at the Euharlee Granary, 114 Covered Bridge Road — will be open to the public Monday through Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m.; Friday from 6 to 10 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday from 3 to 10 p.m. Santa will be available for visits and pictures each Friday through Sunday from 6 to 8 p.m.
Due to the county’s burn ban, the event will not hold a bonfire this year.
The Festival of Trees will feature donated trees, wreaths and other festive items that will be on display and up for auction, with the last bids being placed on the event’s final night. As Smithey previously mentioned, among the decor that will be auctioned will be her Three Wise Men conifer — embellished with red, purple and gold ornaments and red lights — and Excel’s Harry Potter tree.
“Excel High School students are required to dedicate 25 hours of volunteer service to their community every school year,” said Smithey, Excel Christian Academy’s middle and high school chorus teacher. “Creating a themed Christmas tree to donate to Euharlee Festival of Trees would be a wonderful way to help them achieve their goal.
The students have been diligently working on class projects as well as their heavy load of extracurricular activities but somehow made time to create ornaments and decorate their tree.
“This is the first time members from ECA High School chorus and band have donated a tree. Since most of the donated trees are themed, my students decided on a Harry Potter themed Christmas tree decorated with a sorting hat, a Gryffindor banner, eyeglasses and many ornaments reflecting the style of the Harry Potter novels.”
In its fourth year presenting the Festival of Trees, Just Believe Christmas for Kids will carry on the tradition of the event’s previous organizers — The Covered Bridge Players and the Margaret Montgomery Christmas 4 Kids Foundation — with proceeds helping provide Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in Bartow. There will be no admission charge but donations will be accepted.
“Our trees this year are all totally different and range in size [from] 4 feet to 9 feet,” Bibbings said. “We have the most items this year than ever, some 50-plus pieces. Each piece [is] absolutely beautiful within itself, but once all the finishing touches are added it makes for an absolutely breathtaking and magical experience. Each year, [we] wonder what we can do next year better than this year, and — with the help of our volunteers and the generous donors who decorate their own unique trees — every year has managed to come together a bit better than the last. We so appreciate all our volunteers, donors and visitors who make it all a success. Last year we were able to assist 28 children, and we hope for more this year.
“We have also been fortunate for the last three years to have had a VW toy cruise assist us in providing toys. ... [They cruise] in the last night with a string of older and newer original VWs and unload a car load of toys. This helps us provide more clothing, coats and necessities for our children and groceries where necessary for families, as well as items in the children’s actual wish list. Also leading to helping more children.”
For more information about the Euharlee Festival of Trees, visit www.euharleefestivaloftrees.org or contact Bibbings at email@example.com. Further details about the parade can be obtained by emailing Woody Colgan at firstname.lastname@example.org.