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Festival of Trees kicks off Oak Harbor's Christmas season

"Teams of Santa’s helpers are busy this week decorating 11 gorgeous Christmas trees that will be lighted at Oak Harbor‘s first Festival of Trees set to open on Friday, Nov. 19, at the Oak Harbor Elks Lodge.The Festival begins with a formal gala and charity auction where the lavishly decorated trees — each done to a different theme and sparkling with 900 lights — will be auctioned to the highest bidder. Seven decorated wreaths will also be auctioned. Gala tickets are selling well, but some seats are still available.As befits a Christmas celebration, the proceeds will go to help two agencies that offer caring services for children, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Island County and Citizens Against Domestic and Sexual Abuse.Big Brother/Big Sisters will use the money to support its mentorship program which pairs children in need of adult role models with a Big Brother or Sister.CADA will use its share for children’s services, support groups, emergency child care and for children at Safe Harbor, Oak Harbor’s shelter for women and children affected by domestic violence. “We see an awful lot of kids here,” CADA’s executive director Valerie Stafford said, “between 15 and 25 in a month. We’ve devoted a lot to kids in the past few years, as part of our prevention program. We try to help them get over any kind of trauma they may have suffered and heal enough that they don’t become abusers themselves, or live their lives as victims.” The festival, which is set to become an annual fund-raiser, will launch the holiday season in Oak Harbor. And when it is all over, the trees will be delivered to the homes of the buyers to light up the festive season.Each tree is sponsored by a local business or organization, and teams of volunteers are busy this week decorating the small forest of 7-foot tall Noble fir trees donated by WoodBee Tree Farm. Auctioned trees will remain on display on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 20 and 21, after which they will be carefully bagged and delivered to the buyers. Local choirs, bands and musicians will provide on-stage entertainment on Saturday and Sunday. Vendors, artists and crafts people will demonstrate their ideas for holiday decorations on both days. There’ll be refreshments and raffles, too.And on Saturday, Nov. 20, a Teddy Bear Tea at the Oak Harbor Christian School will also be part of the Festival.Children, accompanied by an adult, are invited to attend a special tea party wearing their holiday best. Party-goers are asked to bring along a teddy bear or other stuffed animal to donate to local charities. The tea will feature entertainment, sandwiches and dessert. Holiday photos will be taken.Festival of Trees events• Gala and auction: Friday, Nov. 19, 6-10 p.m., Oak Harbor Elks Lodge. Hors d’oeuvres, desserts and entertainment by the Sea Notes. Tickets, $50 each, $90 per couple. Tickets are still available.• Community days: Saturday, Nov. 20, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 21, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Oak Harbor Elks Lodge. Admission: $2. Tickets available at the door.• Teddy Bear Tea: Saturday, Nov. 20, two sessions, 10:30 a.m. to noon and 1:30-3 p.m. at the Oak Harbor Christian School. Tickets: $5.For tickets to all three events call 675-3262. "

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