It's fabulous. It's so fun to watch 220,000 square feet of bare floor turn into a winter wonderland in 12 hours. It's amazing. —Marie Partridge

SANDY — As she has for several years, Marie Partridge watched Monday as the South Towne Exposition Center was transformed into the Festival of Trees.

"It's fabulous," Partridge said. "It's so fun to watch 220,000 square feet of bare floor turn into a winter wonderland in 12 hours. It's amazing."

Those decorating had from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to set up and decorate in advance of the invitation-only silent auction. The auction, set for 5 p.m. Tuesday, will feature a number of items in addition to trees, including quilts, gingerbread houses and wreaths.

"It's a magical place," Partridge said. "Everyone is serving together for the same purpose of helping children. It's wonderful."

Partridge has spent seven years on the board of the 42-year-old festival that organizers call a "gift of love" to children at Primary Children's Medical Center. Since its inception in 1971, the festival has raised more than $30.8 million for the children's hospital.

"It gets in your blood," she said, "and you want to do more."

The Festival of Trees attracted 100,000 people last year, Partridge said.

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"That's a good amount of people to go through these doors in four days," she said. "We're excited for that."

The Festival of Trees will run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

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