HOL­I­DAY DIS­PLAY

Saratoga Fes­ti­val of Trees gives even­togers dec­o­rat­ing in­spi­ra­tion

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Lau­ren Hal­li­gan lhal­li­[email protected]­i­tal­first­media.com re­porter

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.

LAU­REN HAL­LI­GAN - MEDIANEWS GROUP

At­ten­dees walk through the 2019 Saratoga Fes­ti­val of Trees on Sun­day at the Saratoga Springs City Cen­ter.

LAU­REN HAL­LI­GAN - MEDIANEWS GROUP

At­ten­dees walk their dog through the 2019 Saratoga Fes­ti­val of Trees on Sun­day at the Saratoga Springs City Cen­ter.

LAU­REN HAL­LI­GAN - MEDIANEWS GROUP

Left to right: Mia Este­vade­ordal, Tara Mur­phy and Laia Este­vade­ordal vol­un­teer in the Hol­i­day Shoppe at the 2019 Saratoga Fes­ti­val of Trees.

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