Saratoga Festival of Trees gives eventogers decorating inspiration
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. >> Thousands of eventgoers visited the 24th annual Saratoga Festival of Trees for a bit of decorating inspiration as they start their holiday season.
The festival, held Wednesday through Sunday at the Saratoga Springs City Center, featured a total of 200 displays, ranging from small decor items to six-foot fully decorated trees.
These items were available for viewing and sale at the event, which raises money for Catholic Charities of Saratoga, Warren and Washington Counties.
This Saratoga Springs-based organization presents the Saratoga Festival of Trees each year as its largest annual fundraiser to support its programs and services, including counseling, mentoring, shelter, nutritional outreach, crime victim services, emergency services and a community home for the terminally ill.
“It helps us to serve more people in need throughout the three counties,” said Sister Charla Commins, executive director of Catholic Charities of Saratoga, Warren and Washington Counties.
Commins, who has been involved with the Saratoga Festival of Trees since it first started 24 years ago, said it’s all about showcasing the designers’ creativity and inspiring others in a holiday atmosphere. “It’s really the kick
off event for downtown Saratoga, with the Victorian Streetwalk and for the City Center,” she said. “Everybody wants to go home and decorate then.”
During the festival’s first day open to the public, which coincides with the annual Victorian Streetwalk in downtown Saratoga Springs, about 800 people attended, with many more to come throughout the weekend.
First-time eventgoers Paul and Lisa Zarecki of Broadalbin decided to check out the Saratoga Festival of Trees after seeing Commins on television news the day before. “We were excited to come today. It’s fabulous,” Lisa said.
“It’s beautiful,” Lisa continued, describing two items she purchased during their visit. One teathemed tabletop tree is a gift for a coworker and another will be a gift for her aunt, her daughter’s godmother, who loves cardinals.
The Zareckis found the prices to be reasonable, and were glad to support Catholic Charities.
Already planning to return next year, Lisa said she hopes to attend the Preview Reception Gala.
In addition to charging for admission, Catholic Charities raised funds
through its Holiday Shoppe, raffle and special events such as the Preview Reception Gala, Breakfast with Santa, Sundaes with Santa and Santa’s Workshop craft activities.
This year, the Holiday Shoppe surpassed last year’s fundraising total, shared Karen Morandi-Isabella, who co-chairs this part of the festival along with Heather O’Leary. “We have donations of Christmas items, and they’re next to new things, and the money that we generate from the shoppe goes right to Catholic Charities,” Morandi-Isabella said. “It’s a good family activity,” she added, noting that children like to shop with the fill a bag system.
Looking ahead, the Saratoga Festival of Trees will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2020.
More information about Catholic Charities of Saratoga, Warren and Washington Counties, including a complete list of services offered by each county, is available online at ccrcda.org or by calling the organization’s Saratoga Springs administrative office at (518) 587-5000.
Attendees walk through the 2019 Saratoga Festival of Trees on Sunday at the Saratoga Springs City Center.
Attendees walk their dog through the 2019 Saratoga Festival of Trees on Sunday at the Saratoga Springs City Center.
Left to right: Mia Estevadeordal, Tara Murphy and Laia Estevadeordal volunteer in the Holiday Shoppe at the 2019 Saratoga Festival of Trees.