Area organizations compete in charity tree decorating contest

Matt Algarin

When the clock strikes 4 p.m. Nov. 25, and the switch has been flipped, Grand Boulevard will officially unveil the masterpieces carefully crafted by the participants in the 5th annual Festival of the Trees at the Grand Park.

“It’s going to be a great, family friendly event,” said Stacey Brady, director of marking and public relations for Grand Boulevard at Sandestin. “We have thousands of people come out each year to see these beautiful trees.”

Since the inaugural Festival of Trees in 2009, this showcase of community, compassion and creativity has quickly become one of the signature events under the Coastal Culture series. Festival of Trees, which runs from Nov. 25- Dec. 25, features a dozen majestically decorated trees from area charities, which pull out all the stops to take the top prize and raise awareness for causes near and dear.

“We tell them to go all out,” Brady told The Sun. “We really want them to use their imaginations.”

This year’s participants include Alaqua Animal Refuge, Inc., The ARC of Walton County, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast, Building Homes for Heroes, Children in Crisis, Children’s Volunteer Health Network, Inc., Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation, Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center, Emerald Coast Relay for Life, Heart Animal Rescue, Horizons, and Junior League of the Emerald Coast.

As part of the festival, the trees will be judged on their decorations and winners will be announced at 6 p.m. Attendees will be able to cast their ballot for the People’s Choice winner.

The non-profit organizations are competing to win cash prizes totaling $5,500, between the Best of Show and People’s Choice awards. Last year, Alaqua was the big winner taking home both Best of Show and People’s Choice honors.

For more information about the 5th Annual Festival of Trees visit www.grandboulevard.com or call 850-654-5929.

“It’s just an all around great event,” Brady said. “It’s a great fit for the organizations, the community and Grand Boulevard.”