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Festival of Trees offers international flair with ‘Hands Around the World’

VERO BEACH — The holiday season starts this weekend with the 12th annual Festival of Trees at Riverside Children’s Threatre. About 5,000 people are expected to pour through the doors Saturday and Sunday.

This year’s event will incorporate an international flavor with “Hands Around the World” as its theme.

More than 40 trees will be decorated in the theme, invoking the essence of numerous countries, including England, Ireland, France, Italy, China, Finland, Brazil, Sweden, and the African continent.


Even a gingerbread village will consist of structures representing the theme, including a Japanese pagoda, the Eiffel Tower, and a Russian Palace. The village pieces will be available for sale through a silent auction.

For the first time in its 12-year history, the festival will have an outdoor light display consisting of 60 14-inch stars.

“It’s really beautiful,” said Linda Downey, of the theatre. Gena and Tylor Grove sponsored the light display.

The festival serves as a fund-raiser for the theatre and supports the theatre’s mission to provide affordable cultural enrichment and educational opportunities in drama, dance, film and technical theatre for youth ages 3 and up.

Over the years, the festival has generated between $50,000 and $80,000 for the theatre’s programs, according to Downey.

“Every year is different,” she said, adding that they hope to raise about the same this year.

The Festival of Trees kicks off on Friday, Nov. 20, with two previews – the Silver Bells Preview at 9:30 a.m. for low-income seniors, and the Gala Preview Party at 6 p.m. Tickets for the Gala are $150 per person. For those 35 and under, junior tickets are available for $75 in advance.

The Gala preview will offer international tastes with food stations representing world cuisine. Stations include a Latin Fajita Bar, the Orient, the Mediterranean, and Main Street U.S.A.

Festival hours on Saturday and Sunday are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission to the festival is $7 for adults and $3 for children.

There will be vendor booths and on-going entertainment. Santa, too, will be on hand for photographs. Saturday will have a special Family Night beginning at 6 p.m. with a children’s pajama fashion show and a Reindeer Seek-n-Find scavenger hunt.

Storyteller Miss Julie will entertain children and Riverside Children’s Theatre’s Miss Shannon will conduct a sing a-long.

Mulligan’s will provide a family friendly menu. Family Night tickets are $35 for a family of four or $10 per person.

George E. Warren Corporation and Chelsea’s on Cardinal are the presenting sponsors of the event.

For more information or for tickets call the children’s theatre at (772) 234-8052.

Sponsors of the event include:

George E. Warren Corporation,

Chelsea’s on Cardinal,

The Shoemate Foundation,

Dr. & Mrs. Paul Minotty,

Ocean Grill,


Signs by Tomorrow,

Vero Beach Magazine,

Oak Harbor Sales,

The Rosato Plastic Surgery Center,

Treasure Coast Dermatology,

Wachovia Bank,

The Majestic 11,

Sofia Nason Blanchard and Family,

Brown and Brown,

Charles Schwab and Company,

Dale Sorensen Real Estate,

Disney’s Vero Beach Resort,

Mr. & Mrs. Cody Estes,

Orchid Island Golf & Beach Club,

Susan & Carter Hopkins,

Rivergold Citrus,

The Lembo Family,

Windsor Properties,

U.S. TrustVero Chemical Distributors,

Vision Plus,

Anne & Jerry Blatherwick,

EZ Brew Coffee and Bottled Water Service,

Florida Floor Fashions,

Le Classique Jewelers,

Norris & Company Real Estate,

Premier Estate Properties Inc.,

SunTrust Bank,

UBS Financial Services, and

Gena and Tylor Grove.

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