It takes more than 10,000 people - enough to populate a fair-sized town - to put on the Festival of Trees, the annual Christmas fundraiser for Primary Children's Medical Center.
There are tree buyers and tree donors and tree decorators. There are gingerbread house makers and wreath makers and cookie train makers. This year there are more than 2,100 entertainers, bringing the grand total of volunteers to 10,730.All their efforts are on display this week at the 18th annual Festival of Trees, which runs through Dec. 3 at Salt Palace II.
Last year the festival generated $465,000 to help provide medical care for little patients whose families cannot afford care.
Amy Engar and a few of her neighbors were among the 2,100 tree decorators on hand earlier this week to turn a cavernous exhibition hall into an enchanted forest.
The neighbors decided last January to donate a tree to this year's festival. The dozen or so families have been exchanging presents for the past 20 years; but after two decades of gift ideas, says Engar, "sometimes the imagination runs a little thin." So the neighbors decided to pool imaginations, and their resources, to create one big gift this Christmas - for Primary Children's Medical Center.
The result is a cozy addition to the Festival of Trees. Because Engar and her friends are grandparents now, they decided to create a "granny tree" full of "handmade things that grannies would make."
The tree will be one of more than 300 that will be auctioned or sold during the festival.
For some of the volunteers participating in this year's festival, the trees are a tribute to the memory of family members or friends.
"Nutcracker for Jamin" is a 7-foot flocked tree decorated with 40 ballet shoes, in memory of 15-year-old Jamin Chatterton, who died last Dec. 16, the day that dress rehearsals began for Mountain West Ballet's production of "The Nutcracker."
Jamin, who was to have danced three different parts in the production, was killed as he walked to the school bus.
Jamin's mother, Karen, an artistic director of the ballet company, has decorated his tree with ballet shoes and 20 dolls representing major characters in "The Nutcracker."
The Festival of Trees is organized each year by Primary Children's Women's Endowment Board, a 70-member volunteer board headed up by Elda Rae Gunn.
Although it would take a phone book to list all 10,730 volunteers who have made this year's festival possible, some of the volunteers include Joyce MacCabe, Janie Heaps, Helen Porter (sweet shop); Norma Jensen and Kristy Foote (small fry); Earlene Rex and Lorraine Armstrong (large trees); MarJean Stubbs and Carol Borgmeier (wreaths); Kay Lewis (fantasy avenue); Janet Potts, Marilyn Morrison and Paulette Mounteer (gift boutique); Zonnie Daines and Marsha McNeil (entertainment); Kathy Jensen (warm cookies); Laura Garner (scones); Nancy Dunlop (tickets); Nyla Toleman and Linda Lohrengal (opening night).
Also, Evelyn Zundel (tree clinic); Pat Stevenson, Chris Gunn and Sharley Leonard (finance); Kris Wright and Janet Brooks (publicity); Claudia Demke and Verla Christensen (delivery); Marilyn Folkerson (small trees); Sharon Gomez, decoration; Vicki Ricketts and Joyce Larsen (hostesses); Marjorie Tuckett (kickoff tea); Barbara Christiansen (celebrity Santas); Susan Bollinger and JoAnn Cummings (tree sales); Julie Summers (breakfast with Santa); Carolyn Brooks (cookie recipe book).