ANDERSON, Ind. — It’s a spectacle of holiday delights, sure to bedazzle the wee ones as well as the grown-ups. The 23rd annual Festival of Trees at The Paramount Theatre kicks off this week, and runs through Dec. 7.
The festival makes a great opportunity to soak in the holiday season within the rich ambience of the theater. At the same time, it helps to support the historic venue, which dates to 1929. The festival launches with a gala fundraiser, then the Paramount opens its doors for visitors to enjoy a stunning display of carefully decorated trees and wreaths and a vast display of miniature trains. Special entertainment and performances run throughout the festival as well.
“We have all kinds of events,” said Gayle Jones Burris, executive director of the Paramount. “It’s really cool for all ages especially with the addition of Larry Davenport’s trains.”
Things kick off tomorrow night with the gala and auction. About 300 people have purchased tickets to attend the fundraiser. The party kicks off at 5 p.m. Throughout the course of the evening, each designer-decorated tree and wreath will be auctioned off. Last year’s gala raised more than $40,000, with one of the trees netting more than $4,000.
“That helps pay our bills. It’s operating funds and also for the continued restoration and repair of the theater,” said Burris. The trees remain on display throughout the Festival of Trees before being delivered to their purchasers.
Designers have been at work on the trees since August with the support of their tree sponsors. Most of the trees were decorated right in the basement of the Paramount before being taken up to the ballroom.
“It’s all for fun. It helps us out, and it’s just amazing what these people do,” said Burris. “They get to decide what their theme is.” There’s also a room full of trees decorated on site by area schoolchildren.
“They do a really good job. We love the kids,” said Burris.
The Paramount doors open for general admission to check out the trees on Saturday, Nov. 30. Tickets are $5. Children 5 and under get in the door for $1. Admission includes touring the trees as well as Larry Davenport’s amazing Christmas Village train display.
“It’s noisy and active and blinky. Kids love it,” said Burris. “Everything blinks and pings and twinkles.”
She noted that kids can participate in a sort of scavenger hunt, searching for particular details in the extensive display. It could take awhile. Davenport first brought his trains to the Paramount in 2009, and every year, Davenport adds to the meticulous display.
“He loves the Paramount and we love him back,” said Burris.
The Festival of Trees also features a number of other events, with various admission prices (see If You Go). On Tuesday, Nov. 26, the trees provide the atmosphere for the Holiday Ballroom Dance. That evening, visitors will enjoy open dancing, with special performances by Ed Godby-Schwab and partner Diane Miller, as well as Yulia and Scott Shook.
Kids will not want to miss breakfast with Santa at “A Children’s Magical Christmas” on Saturday, Nov. 30. The event includes a continental breakfast, pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus, door prizes, raffle, music and fun. Tickets are $5. The event is sponsored by the Anderson Noon Exchange Club.
The Gruenewald Historic House presents its style show and luncheon on Tuesday, Dec. 3. The theater also features performances on various evenings by Anderson Ballet Folklorico, Jazz Band night, City Choirs, Madison County Choirs, Bonnie and Sheri’s Dance and Gymnastics, and Lapel Community Band.
For tickets or more information, call the Paramount Box Office at 642-1234 or visit the website www.andersonparamount.org.
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Event schedule Tuesday, Nov. 26 Holiday Ballroom Dance, 7 to 10 p.m., $12 Saturday, Nov. 30 General admission noon to 4 p.m. Children's Magical Christmas, 9:30 a.m., $5 Sunday, Dec. 1 General admission noon to 4 p.m. with Anderson 2:30 p.m. Anderson Ballet Folklorico, adults $6, students $4, children 5 and under $1 Tuesday, Dec. 3 General admission 4 to 7 p.m. 11:30 Gruenewald House Style Show, tickets $20, or $140 for a reserved table of 8 7 p.m. Jazz band night, adults $6, students $4, children 5 and under $1 Wednesday, Dec. 4 General admission 4 to 7 p.m. 7 p.m. City Choirs, adults $6, students $4, children 5 and under $1 Thursday, Dec. 5 General admission 4 to 7 p.m. 7 p.m. Madison County Choirs, adults $6, students $4, children 5 and under $1 Friday, Dec. 6 General admission 4 to 7 p.m. 7 p.m. Bonnie and Sheri's Dance and Gymnastics, $6.50 Saturday, Dec. 7 General admission noon to 7 p.m. 7 p.m. Lapel Community Band, adults $6, students $4, children 5 and under $1 -- The Herald Bulletin