Light Up the Season: Fantasy trees a unique way of giving
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: November 09, 2012
Joyce Kilmer famously wrote, “I think that I shall never see, A poem lovely as a tree,” but Kilmer might have taken further poetic license if he had attended Saturday’s Light Up the Season, where dozens of trees were dressed for the holidays to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clara Valley.
The inaugural event featured fantasy theme trees eagerly snapped up through a Chinese Raffle, Enzo’s at The Glen Tavern Inn buffet, a spellbinding performance by James Lantiegne of the House of Magic, and musical interludes by the Isbell Condor Chorus under the direction of Donna Nelson. Plenty of elves circled the room, their Santa hats a tip off that they were carrying raffle tickets to be sold at only $1 each.
Club CEO Jan Marholin, although petite, was easy to spot wearing a holiday hat with a top more suitable for Seuss than Santa. Marholin welcomed the crowd, noting the unique event suggested and coordinated by Becci Orlando “is our very first... but we have a feeling it won’t be our last.”
It was easy to see why: the ground floor of the historic Becker Building on East Main Street was lined with buffet tables holding in all 22 brightly lit artificial holiday trees, each standing four feet. But that was all they had in common - each tree was decorated with a different theme, with gifts displayed or tucked away in branches reflecting the personality of the tree.
A Hello Kitty tree was every girl’s delight, with special stuffed toys, accessories, baubles and oodles of fun stuff that would also be enjoyed by adult fans - from elaborate watches and a lava lamp to a Hello Kitty toaster.
The Harley-Davidson tree sported a signature throw blanket as the skirt, several insignia knives, a vintage speed-racer metal wall decoration, rare Harley holiday decorations, gift certificates and more. A box holding a delicate Black Hills Gold necklace was hung like an ornament, the perfect gift for a patient woman.
Each tree was decorated to reflect the sponsors’ business, interests or whims with related “presents” that completed the picture and the raffle prize-winning package. Some sponsors left it up to others to decorate their tree, while others carefully trimmed their own.
Such was the case with Pamela Lindsey, who not only created La Navidad En Nicaragua - a wonderful tree with imported handmade ornaments - but who sponsored it with her husband Jan through their GoCare Foundation. Then to complete the circle Lindsay won the tree, which she reportedly was about to swap with another winner who loved the holiday folk art she displayed.
A Peacock Tree included magnificent jewelry, glass and a bottle of wine worth well over $150; the Angel Tree was a sparkling dream including a glorious display angel; and the CP Aviation and Aviation Museum of Santa Paula tree was a flight of fanciful items - ranging from an in air gift certificate to T-shirts and wonderful collectible Santa aviator ornaments. Cookie Lee Jewelry was strictly for lovers of bling, and Christmas Cheer had everything one needed for a riotous holiday celebration - but no cure for a hangover.
Each of the trees was unique and each had bidders eager to take them home, with raffle tickets flying off the rolls for popping into the bags designated for each tree. “Most of the bags were three-quarters full,” said Orlando. “A few almost overflowed” with tickets, the first indication the event was a success for the club.
Each winner posed next to their tree - a gift for the sponsor to encourage their generous participation next year. Amber Grace Wineman, 8, of Newbury Park, was excited that her mother Jennifer won the Harley Davidson tree, but she was also kept busy helping with the raffle and keeping a sharp eye on the Hello Kitty Tree.
Gary Nasalroad learned that there are drawbacks to being a rare male in a crowd of more 160 women when the magician asked him to help demonstrate a guillotine trick... that thankfully went well.
“It really went really well,” Orlando said of the trick and the whole event. “Everyone loved it and wants to come back next year... Jan thinks our attendance will triple if we do it again next year and I do, too!”
Orlando served strictly as a club volunteer when she suggested and then coordinated the event. “We had wonderful, generous sponsors, and I couldn’t be more pleased for a first year event... it went so well that some guests thought we had been doing this year after year!
It was all about supporters, sponsors, club staff and other helpers who, Orlando said, “all really went above and beyond all to benefit our Positive Place for Kids!”