By Dani Palmer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Anderson’s Festival of Trees opens this weekend with holiday-themed events for the whole family, and to help raise the funds to keep things going, the Paramount Theatre Centre & Ballroom held its 22nd annual Festival of Trees Gala on Saturday night.
Paramount Executive Director Gayle Jones Burris said a little over $40,000 was raised from the tree and wreath auction, which is less than last year’s $60,000.
Festival of Trees co-chairwoman Marissa Skaggs said she was still “very pleased” with the outcome and that the economy may have played a part.
“We auctioned off more items this year and we’re not sure if that was a good or bad thing,” Skaggs added.
She said established community members can only buy so many trees and that more trees mean less competition.
The top bidder was Carl Erskine’s tree, “Boys of Summer,” at $4,000, Burris said. It was a Dodgers memorabilia tree with signed fantasy league baseballs and baseballs from different team members over the years.
Guest auctioneers got to choose a charity to receive 10 percent of their individual trees’ sale. Erskine chose the Special Olympics, Bret and Michelle Cook, of country duo Cook and Belle, decided to give back to the Paramount and Dr. Bill VanNess, outgoing president of Community Hospital, chose Alternatives Inc., Skaggs said.
She added that the event saw a larger crowd for the dinner, from about 300 last year to 380 this year, and that the Paramount is thankful to those in the community who have returned year after year for the last 22 years.
Jones Burris said so much goes into the Festival of Trees and that the gala provided a wonderful night.
“We had 52 trees and wreaths. That’s a lot more than we had last year,” she said. “This is the first time we’ve had so many trees in my history (at the Paramount).”
Last year, she said, they had about 35 of the decorated and themed trees. And for the first time, she said 43 veteran and 37 new designers worked together on them.
Skaggs said executive board members welcome any ideas for next year.
“About 20 minutes after, we were already thinking about what to do for next year’s event,” she said. “It’s a constant evolution.”
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