25th annual Festival of Trees returns this December with a 5K, too

Festival of TreesFestival of Trees

The annual Festival of Trees is returning with a week-long holiday wonderland at the Charles Lynn Activity Center, located at 1001 Hamar Street.

This year the festival kicks off holiday pursuits at 8 a.m. on Saturday, December 1, with a Jingle Jog (5K walk or run or a 1 mile fun walk or run) through Port Royal's old village, beginning and ending at the Farmer's Market at Heritage Park on Ribaut Road by the Naval Hospital. In addition to race prizes, competitors will vie for best costume, best stroller décor and largest group.

The Jingle Jog is followed by the opening gala on Monday, December 3, and a week of gourmet, gifts and gorgeous trees. Closing ceremonies are on Saturday, December 8, featuring a live broadcast from the festival by the Coast radio station (94.5) and a day of family-friendly activities.

2012 Honorary medical co-chairs for the Festival of Trees are Dr. and Mrs. Eric Billig (Beaufort Memorial Hospital) and Dr. Marcus Newberry III (Lowcountry Medical Group) and fiancée Ms. Elizabeth Z. Harding. Mr. and Mrs. Ryan Dennis are serving as 2012 voluntary co-chairs.

The black-tie optional Opening Night Gala and silent auction officially opens the Festival on Monday evening from 6:30 until 9 pm December 3. Tickets are limited ($50 per person, $90 per couple and $60 at the door), so be sure to make your reservations early.

From Tuesday, December 4, to Saturday, December 8, Festival patrons may enjoy a leisurely lunch among the trees, shop at the Gift and Gourmet, buy a tree for their family or, new this year, buy a tree for a military family to say thanks for sacrifices made as a loved one serves our country. On Thursday evening, December 6th - take in the Christmas Concert at Beaufort High School - featuring the Blue Dots. Festival of Trees volunteers will provide concessions and all proceeds benefit Friends of Caroline Hospice.

General admission to the Festival is $5, military $3, group and youth $2 with group discounts available to schools and seniors.
Back by popular demand, a new tradition launched in 2011, Festival of Trees Holiday Butts can be pre-ordered for $30 and picked up on Sunday, December 2nd at the Festival. Go to the Festival of Trees link to place an order on-line or via phone.
"Festival of Trees is such a special way to share the spirit of giving with family, friends and children. I encourage everyone to drop in to enjoy the simple beauty of the trees," said Dr. Eric Billig, event volunteer co-chair. "Celebrate the season by helping to provide free hospice care and free child and adult bereavement counseling."

Sally Mitchell-Dennis, event co-chair, added, "This year Festival of Trees will celebrate its Jubilee year, 25 years of supporting the needs of friends, neighbors and community members with life-threatening illness. The Festival has raised over $955,000 for Friends of Caroline Hospice. Sally and I extend our appreciation to the tremendous number of past and present, volunteers, honorary chairs and the thousands of community members attending each year who made this possible."
Want to become involved? Volunteer opportunities are still available for the 2012 events. Go to the Festival of Trees web site or call Candy Pethe at 812-6505 to learn more (or email her at festivaloftreesvolunteer@gmail.com).

Visit the Festival's website at www.festivaloftreesbeaufort.com to preview some of the exceptional items that will be available at this year's silent auction; to see a full schedule of activities and entertainment throughout the week; Jingle Jog registration; volunteer opportunities; and a list of this year's sponsors.

Friends of Caroline Hospice is the only organization in the area that does not charge participants and provides quality end of life care, grief counseling and caregiver support 100% as the result of donations. Festival of Trees is a major part of this contribution.

For more information, contact: Sharon Dwyer at 843-271-1595 or email festivaloftreesbeaufort@gmail.com