2013 Festival Of Trees Kicks Off

By Cindy Hemper

This Tuesday November 26th the 29th Annual Saint Vincent Festival of Trees kicks off a week long event that will benefit the Children’s Miracle Network, and will be hosted by the Erie Convention Center.

The Children’s Miracle Network is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping hospitalized kids by raising funds and awareness for children’s hospitals. Each year, the network of hospitals associated with The Children’s Miracle Network help 14 million kids children throughout our country.

Miranda Grom, the Director of St. Vincent’s Children’s Miracle Network, chairs this year’s spectacular event that is debatably the most extravagant in the Festival of Trees’ history.

Charring this year’s entertainment committee along with his Co-Chair Melanie Augenstein of Starlite Events by Design, is Erie’s own superstar Dancer extraordinaire, Brett Fallon who both have organized a cornucopia of talent as diverse and extreme as the trees being showcased.

“Both Melanie and I are very excited to bring the largest and most diverse line-up of entertainment for a single event in Erie, Pa.”, Fallon stated as he went on to say, “The Festival of Trees is truly Erie’s pristine Christmas event with the grand venue of the Bayfront Convention Center and the beautiful Christmas attractions making it the place to be.” 

When asked how he approached booking the talent for this year’s event Fallon responded, “In keeping true to my commitment to providing quality entertainment to Erie audiences, the line-up includes all the best Erie has to offer in show choirs, bands, dance companies, singers, and orchestras, with all the performers giving their time and talents to the wonderful cause of Children’s Miracle Network at Christmas time.”

This year’s event will feature not only almost 80 trees that are incredibly decorated with the most stunning ornaments that will all be presented in the Grand Ballroom of the Convention Center, but also a Santa’s magical Castle, Breakfast with Santa event, and a Light Up Night Gala Cocktail Party along with 45 acts that include 650 performers.

In addition, the event will yet again present the “Journey to Bethlehem” exhibit featuring a life size nativity scene, courtesy of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Northwestern Pennsylvania, along with the “Santa’s Castle” attraction where attendees will be able to walk through and participate in Santa’s interactive and magical castle.

While visiting Santa’s Castle, attendees will be able to decorate a cookie with Mrs. Claus in the Gingerbread Bakery, create a craft in the Elves’ Workshop, write a letter in Santa’s Office, and visit two of Santa’s reindeer outside on Reindeer Point.

Children will also have the opportunity to visit Santa’s Secret Shop, where they may purchase gifts for their friends and family members, along with the chance to tell Santa their Christmas wishes and dreams as they meet him at his regal Throne.

Kicking off the event on Tuesday will be the Light Up Night Gala Cocktail Party at 5:00 p.m. when the Festival will officially begin with the first lighting of the trees. The Gala features a special first look at the Festival’s collection of professionally decorated trees while enjoying heavy hors d’oeuvres and a champagne toast, along with entertainment by Erie’s favorite DJ, Bill Page, and a cash bar will also be available throughout the evening.

On Saturday November 30th at 9:30am, one the event’s most popular attractions, “Breakfast with Santa” will give children of all ages the chance to share precious moments with Santa that can be cherished for a lifetime. Because seating is very limited to the first 300 guests, event organizers ask that reservations to the breakfast be made.

Throughout the five-day massive extravaganza, and featured in the Gallery of Trees, will be entertainment by much of the best and most talented local performers Erie has to offer that include, Erie Junior Philharmonic String Quartet, Walnut Creek Select Singers, Lake Erie Ballet, Saint George Adult and Children’s Choir and Dance Elite with Brett Fallon. Gem City Jazz Ensemble, Erie Dance Theatre, Mercyhurst Dancers, Collegiate Academy Dancers, The Monk’s Brew Band, and the McDowell High School Vocal Ensemble, along with hundreds more of the most gifted our City has to offer.

All of the performances will be set to the backdrop of a state of art sound and lighting system provided by Grise Audio and Visual, greatly enhancing the amazing performances that will with no doubt make for truly breathtaking entertainment experiences.

Along with many others, the top sponsors for this year’s event include Grise Audio and Visual, Highmark, First Niagara Bank, Eriez Magnetics, WICU-TV and the professional decorators who return again this year include: Carl Larese from Larese Floral Designs, Bassam Dabbah, LeRoyal Flowers and More, Claudia Urda, Plantscape, Janel Potratz Levin and Melody Potratz from Potratz Florists as well as the professionals from Allburn Florists.

MCs for this year’s event will include Brett Fallon, Melanie Augenstein, Greg Mauz, and Jason Amendola. In addition, raffle tickets will be on sale, offering everyone the chance to win one of the many decorated gift trees and one of nearly 50 custom gift baskets, each valued at more than $75.

This year’s festival will run November 26 and through December 1, 2013.

For a complete schedule of the performances at the 2013 Festival of Trees, please click here. For more information on the Festival of Trees, please visit Saint Vincent’s Website. For more information on the Children’s Miracle Network please visit their Website. For a look at a few of the amazing trees from last year’s event, click here.






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