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Sandy Journal

Festival of Trees helps children receive life-saving treatments

Dec 01, 2019 02:25PM ● By Stephanie DeGraw

Wren is this year's Festival of Trees poster patient. The festival raises funds for Primary Children's Medical Center to provide the best medical care for children regardless of ability to pay. (Photo provided by Primary Children's)

by Stephanie DeGraw | [email protected] 

Wren wasn’t expected to live when she was born. She is now 6 years old, and because of donations to the Festival of Trees, she is receiving ongoing care from Primary Children’s Medical Center. The festival runs Dec. 4 through Dec. 7 at the Mountain America Expo Center in Sandy. The hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

“The magic of the festival is they help children out when they are really, really sick. I’m excited to see all the trees again,” Wren said.

Wren’s first surgery was when she was five months old to remove 3/4 of one of her lungs, according to her mother, Micki. Wren continues to need medical treatment to this day. She has congenital pulmonary airway malformation (CPAM).

“I don’t know what I would have done without Primary Children’s Hospital,” Micki said. “Wren wasn’t even supposed to be here. I can’t fathom the thought of having a child who needs medical help and struggling with the question ‘Can I afford it?’”

All the money raised during the Festival of Trees, which has run for 49 years, goes to the hospital. Over the years, the festival has raised nearly $40 million to help provide the best medical care for children regardless of ability to pay. The hospital serves over 100,000 patients across 400,000 square miles from Nevada to Alaska.

The Festival of Trees is one of the longest-running events that support a charity in America. It’s also known as the largest indoor display of decorated Christmas trees in the world. Families, individuals, businesses and groups donate the decorated trees. Gingerbreads, centerpieces, quilts, nativities and wreaths are also available. The Sweet Shoppe provides fresh scones, hot rolls, cheese bread and fudge. 

Activities for children include photos with Santa, Kids Korner and the Elf Emporium featuring small gifts for children. A variety of singers, dancers, aerialists, choirs and bands will perform on stages and in the lobby. The Salt Lake Scots Bagpipes march attendees through the trees at the close of the festival.

Part of the magic of the Festival of Trees comes from the passionate service of its volunteer executive board. The board has 90 members from throughout the state of Utah. The board is led by Chairwoman Shauna Davis, Salt Lake City, and Co-Chairs Brooke Thompson, Bountiful; Elaina Gillespie, Heber; and Shona Peterson, South Jordan.

Opening night is Dec. 3 with a silent auction. This semi-formal evening does not permit children under the age of 16. All trees, quilts, centerpieces, nativities, gingerbread, playhouses and wreaths will be available for purchase. Tickets are available at www.festivaloftrees.org.