O, Christmas Tree

November 18, 2010

O, Christmas Tree

By Rosemary Ford rford@eagletribune.com The Eagle Tribune Thu Nov 18, 2010, 01:20 AM EST

No holiday villain, not Ebenezer Scrooge nor the Grinch, could possibly resist the warmth and cheer of Methuen’s annual Festival of Trees, which opens this weekend in the city.

In its 17th year, the festival promises to be bigger and better than ever with new participants, more trees, more volunteers, more expected attendees (an estimated 35,000) and more money for it’s mission — funding historical preservation in and around Methuen.

So far, the festival has spread $1 million around the Merrimack Valley for projects — from Methuen’s stone walls to the Amos Blanchard House in Andover.

“There are so many historical structures in the Merrimack Valley,” said one of the organizers, Maureen Pollard of Methuen. “We are glad to be a catalyst for preservation.”

The trees were donated and decorated by local families, businesses and organizations. Among the 225 specimens that comprise the festival’s forest this year, there are ones that pay homage to Lady Gaga, Barbie and the Christmas carol “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.”

There’s a tree decked with owls named “Who Whooos Ready For Christmas?” and a tree bearing Santa’s head and arms, that shakes — dubbed “Santa Gets Fit.”

“They are so unique. They always are, but I don’t know where they get the imagination,” Pollard said.

There also are many traditional offerings, including one from parishioners of First Church Congregational in Methuen. This rotating tree is decorated with images of the church’s windows, among other donated ornaments and golden accessories. This tree is called “We Are Family.”

Festival attendees can buy raffle tickets to win one of the trees. A sheet of 26 tickets costs $5. The trees are raffled on Sunday, Dec. 5, at 8 a.m.

There also is a separate raffle, run by Charles of Charles Beauty Wellness. He decorated a black tree trimmed in neon ornaments dubbed “Neon Vanity.” The winner of his raffle gets $2,000.

Besides looking at, and possibly winning trees, festival attendees can enjoy live music, puppet shows, magic shows, science shows, balloon twister and visits from Santa.

About the Festival of Trees

Opens Saturday, Nov. 20, and runs through Dec. 4. Hours are weekdays from 5 to 9 p.m. and weekends from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving.

Admission is $8, with children under 12 free.

At Valley Office Park, 13 Branch St. in Methuen.

For more information, visit methuenfestivaloftrees.com.

Tomorrow: Pre-opening Taste of the Festival gala at 6 p.m. Guest Jason Santos — runner-up from last season’s edition of Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen” and chef of Gargoyles on the Square in Somerville — will host the event, featuring specialty foods from more than 20 local restaurants, music and the unveiling of the trees.

Saturday: Official opening of festival. Seniors and Red Hatters are admitted free today. Also Karen Blake from Oldies 103.3 will be at the festival between 2 and 4 p.m.

Sunday: B. J. Hickman Magic Show at 3 and 5 p.m. Seniors and Red Hatters are admitted free today.

Nov. 26: Mad Science Show at 3 and 5 p.m.

Nov. 27: Red Sox mascot Wally the Green Monster will be there from 3 to 5 p.m.

Nov. 28: Romper Rhythm Puppets Show at 3 and 5 p.m.

Dec. 4: Elfant Production Balloon Twister from 1 to 4 p.m. Festival closes.

When will Santa be there?

Sunday, Nov. 21, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 4, enjoy Breakfast with Santa from 10 a.m. to noon. Doughnuts, muffins, juice and milk will be served.

Tree highlights:

Cooking With Yvette: A person-shaped tree in a hat and apron, stands over a real grill filled with red Christmas lights

Stealing Christmas: Adult-size Grinch drags a fully decorated tree toward a fireplace with Cindy Lou Who’s picture on it.

Making Spirits Bright: Decorated holiday martini glasses and champagne flutes deck the tree, topped by a lit, tinsel filled vodka bottle.

Tour of Italy: Green tree shaped like Italy, and decorated with grapes, bottles of chianti and ornaments emblazoned with “Buon Natale” (Merry Christmas).

Nome Sweet Gnome: A snow-covered igloo is topped by a silver tree, hung with blue, white and crystal ornaments. A polar bear pops out of the igloo, while Eskimos ice fish.

A Bonsai Christmas: A giant bonsai tree looks like it’s being attacked by a red dragon. It’s adorned with Japanese lanterns and gold coins.

Have A Nava Ho Ho Christmas: A tree in a teepee, adorned with a Native American theme which includes moccasins and canoes.

When The West Was Young: This cowboy-theme tree has horseshoes, shields and bandannas on its branches, along with wanted posters for young criminals who have stolen hugs and kisses.

Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer: Features a life-like body of an old woman facedown in the snow with deer tracks on her back. It’s shown with a deer in jail, labeled “Deertension.” The cell is topped with a small tree bearing the words “Oh Deer.”

Online Auction

Don’t want a tree? Try the online auction. Items range from exotic vacation getaways and autographed sports memorabilia to super Duck Tour excursions. Register at www.biddingforgood.com/methuenfestivaloftrees and start bidding.