Arts and Entertainment

Decorators make trees shine bright at Festival of Trees

Mollie Anthony holds up a wreath she decorated for the 12th annual Festival of Trees.   - Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times
Mollie Anthony holds up a wreath she decorated for the 12th annual Festival of Trees.
— image credit: Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times

For the Festival of Trees decorators, Christmas starts in January. Big Brothers Big Sisters’ team of tree decorating experts start planning next year’s creations just weeks after the last tree was auctioned off at the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Island County fundraiser. Throughout the year they attend trade shows to buy and collect the most unique Christmas tree decorations. And before you know it, it is the first weekend of December again and their creations sparkle at the Festival of Trees.

“It’s been a real blessing to see how our Festival of Trees has grown the past 12 years,” said Mollie Anthony, the tree decorator chairwoman. “The money raised is a major part of the budget for Big Brothers Big Sisters. It’s always exciting to hear from the Bigs and Littles at the festival and learn firsthand how BBBS has changed the lives of those involved.”

This year’s festival will be held Friday, Dec. 3, starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Elk’s Lodge in Oak Harbor. Tickets are $85 per person.

This entertaining formal event, featuring uniquely decorated trees and wreaths, benefits children in the community allowing them to be matched in one-to-one relationships with positive role-models through the nonprofit organization. The Festivals of Trees is a community celebration designed to brighten the holiday season while brightening the futures of children in our community, organizers said. All funds go directly to children’s services.

Anthony’s trees this year include Nature’s Noel in a natural color-scheme and Santa’s Workshop in cheerful red and lime green hues.

“The ideas for both trees came after our first visit to the wholesales market in Seattle,” Anthony said. As with most of the decorators, I am always on the lookout for new ideas all year round. I often think I can’t come up with any new ideas, but somehow I always do. Last year a trip to Africa in the summer inspired one of the trees I did,” she said.

The Festival of Trees has become a Whidbey Island holiday tradition and returns to South Whidbey for the sixth year. The trees are the stars of the auction, and the ornaments and decorations will bring joy to their new owners for years to come.

The live auction will be rounded out by exciting items such as classes, get-aways and more.

There is also a silent auction that will offer a plethora of potential holiday gifts for friends and family. To make bidding easier, a selection of the auction items will be posted for a preview after Thanksgiving.

Teddy Bear Breakfast

Festival of Trees includes several family activities. On Dec. 4 at the Elks Lodge in Oak Harbor, Big Brothers Big Sisters will hold its Teddy Bear Character Breakfast which welcomes a score of new characters who will help serve pancakes and other goodies with Frosty. There are two seatings, at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Tickets are $6 for youth under 12 years old and $10 for those 13 years and older.

The public is welcome to check out the beautiful trees before they go home to their new owners, at a Community Open House on Dec. 5 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Oak Harbor Elks Lodge and from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Useless Bay Golf and Country Club.

To make reservations, contact Peggy Dyer, executive director of Big Brother Big Sisters at 360-279-0644 or To learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters of Island County go to

Get your tickets

Twelve trees, eight wreaths and two tabletops trees will be auctioned off at the event in order to raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Island County, whose mission it is to help children reach their potential through professionally supported, one-to-one relationships with mentors.

The event takes place at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 3 at the Elks Lodge. Tickets are $85.

The Festival of Trees is in its sixth year on South Whidbey.

This year’s south-end event will be Saturday, Dec. 4 at 5:30 p.m. at Useless Bay Golf & Country Club.

To make reservations, contact Peggy Dyer, executive director of Big Brother Big Sisters at 360-279-0644 or

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