Now that we’ve polished off the turkey, the festive season is clearly in focus. To kick things off, the Festival of Trees returns to Museum Row in Garden City with the latest edition of its popular spectacle this weekend.
Artisans, local entertainers, volunteers and visitors will gather at Cradle of Aviation Museum, Friday through Sunday to usher in the season. Everyone comes together to share in the festive spirit and support the Cerebral Palsy Association of Nassau, the beneficiary of the event (along with the museum).
As always, the trees are the highlight all weekend long. The display of 40 6 1/2-foot trees and hundreds of 2 1/2 -foot mini- trees commands attention as soon as visitors step into the museum’s grand atrium.
Each is creatively decorated with a unique theme. Among the highlights, Long Island Children’s Museum contributes “Dino-Mite Holiday” and the Theresa Academy of Performing Arts in Lido Beach has created “A Person’s a Person, No Matter How Small,” with the help of the student artists who participate in TAPA programs. Other standouts include the Homemakers Council of Nassau County’s “Angels Among Us,” which includes over 100 ornaments all handmade by crafters from throughout Nassau County. Flowers By Voegler, of Merrick, offers up plenty of bling with “Sparkle and Shine,” and Oyster Bay’s Kristi Halpern does a tree each year fashioned with luxurious ribbon; this year’s version is “Christmas Elegance.”
“It is my pleasure to decorate a tree each year with my co-workers,” says Flowers by Voegler owner Theresa Soto. “We thoroughly enjoy being a part of the festival and love coming up with new themes each year. We have won ribbons for our tree and have been happy to hear that our tree always sells and the funds raised go to programs and services at CP Nassau, which make us very proud.”
The glittering display also includes those mini-trees — in different themes, of course — and wreaths, and swags, all accompanied by a gingerbread village of almost 100 original gingerbread creations, cooked up every year by culinary students from the Barry Tech Institute in Westbury. As always, all trees and gingerbread houses are for sale.
The festive trees provide a shimmering backdrop for the many activities that will appeal to ages, including entertainment and a holiday marketplace. And, naturally, Santa is around to visit with families throughout the weekend.
“Next year CP Nassau will celebrate 70 years of helping individuals with disabilities and their families,” says CP Nassau Executive Director Bob McGuire, a Point Lookout resident. “Over the years so many wonderful people in the community have joined forces with us to hold the Festival of Trees. If it were not for the generosity and sharing of talents of so many, we would not be able to run this great event. We are so very grateful to our volunteers, entertainers, tree designers, bakers and other helpers and supporters. We invite all our friends in the community to stop by and start off the holiday season here. You will have fun and at the same time, help make a difference in the lives of children and adults with disabilities.”
The entertainment lineup throughout weekend features performances by local singers and dancers, including Sea Cliff’s Ballroom Legacy Dance Studio. “I heard how wonderful the Festival of Trees is and am very happy to be invited to bring joy and happiness to all through dancing this holiday season,” says owner Veronika Simeonova. “I am pleased to be supporting CP Nassau.”
Rockville Centre’s Leggz Ltd. Dance troupe is always a crowd-pleaser, doing excerpts from their upcoming holiday production of “The Nutcracker.”
The Force also finds its way in on the action, in the form of Star Wars re-enactors from the 501st Legion and Empire City Garrison who appear on Saturday. They’ll mingle with festival-goers involve fans in their always popular “Blast a Trooper” event that day.
Kids will certainly want to visit with Santa, and, of course, the Festival Marketplace, which includes the Festival Toy Shoppe, is another busy spot.
The festival has legions of devoted volunteers for whom the event remains a longstanding holiday tradition.
“Volunteering at the festival is something that I look forward to all year,” says Karen Kiefel, of Valley Stream, a longtime volunteer and CP Nassau Board member. “My family and friends help me run the Dept. 56 shop that is filled with amazing collectible and retired pieces from Dept. 56 collectors. Our prices and selection can’t be beat and 100 percent of the proceeds go to the Cerebral Palsy Association of Nassau County. Running this shop every year is a true labor of love!”
And Joan MacNaughton, a Lynbrook resident and director/owner of Leggz Ltd. Dance, adds: “I have been volunteering as the entertainment coordinator for the festival for over 15 years now. I love every minute and all the groups that I work with also tell me how much the experience means to them!
Long Island Festival of Trees
When: Friday and Saturday, Nov. 24-25, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 26, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $15, $10 ages 2-12. Admission includes entry to the festival and the Cradle of Aviation Museum.
Where: Cradle of Aviation Museum, Museum Row, Charles Lindbergh Blvd. Garden City. (516) 378-2000 ext. 648 or www.cradleofaviation.org or www.cpnassau.org.