2013 Festival of Trees brings families together

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 19 2013 3:25 p.m. MST

Julie Phillips of Provo started decorating and donating trees in 1987. Her son was treated for kidney failure at Primary Children's and "has helped decorate our tree since he was a teenager.

"The family tradition of decorating a tree has included children, grandchildren, friends and colleagues," she said. "We hope the tradition goes on and on."

Phillips said while her son helps her with ideas for the tree decorations and is a vital part of what she does for the festival, it is more about the gift than the thank-you.

"I'm always thinking about it," she said. "Sometimes I'll just see something and that'll start an idea. This year I was going through a quilt magazine and found a pattern for snowflakes."

She just loves the magic, the planning and everything that goes with the festival event.

"Of course, I could not do anything without my husband and my son," she said.

Emily Shepherd and her husband, of Farmington, watch a lot of Disney movies with their young children, so as a family they decorate an animated movie-themed tree each year.

Last year was "Princess and the Frog." This year's tree features "Ratatouille" movie characters.

Marnie Bushman, of Brigham City, and a group of family and friends — Zach's Helping Hands — are doing a memorial tree for her son Zach, who died in 2009 at the age of 8.

Lani Allen's son, Daniel Alexander Allen, died at age 7½ on Aug. 22, 2011, following a two-year battle with medulloblastoma brain cancer.

Since Daniel loved all things to do with Lightning McQueen, the family's tree is "Geared up for Christmas" with lots of red color, checkered flags and cars.

"Our family has made a tradition of supporting the Festival of Trees in honor of our little angel to give back to the hospital that did so much for him and to help other children, like Daniel, receive much-needed care," Allen said.

Antoinette Robinson of Springville is decorating a tree for her ninth year simply to help.

"It is such an honor to be a part of Festival of Trees," Robinson said. "I have friends and family who have had to take their children to (Primary Children's). It is such a blessing to have the hospital."

Last year, the Festival of Trees raised $1,871,546.91. Every dollar goes to the Primary Children's Hospital as a "Gift of Love" from the volunteers who donate the trees, their time and expertise.

Over the past 43 years, more than $33 million has been raised.

The festival includes more than 700 trees, a gingerbread house village, entertainment from local song and dance groups, children's games and activity center, a holiday gift boutique, an aisle of festive wreaths, a Sweet Shoppe, hot scones and cinnamon rolls.

If you go:

What: 2013 Festival of Trees

When: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Dec. 4-7

Where: South Towne Expo Center, 9575 S. State Street, 

Tickets: $5 adults, $3 children; $15 family (up to six); $4 discount tickets available at Zions Bank and for seniors; $30 opening night auction for two adults. Call 801-662-5957.

Website: http://festivaloftreesutah.org/

Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.

Email: haddoc@deseretnews.com

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