FAIRFIELD — Four-year-old Alana Sisco stood in front of one of the decorated Christmas trees at Good Will-Hinckley’s annual Festival of Trees on Tuesday, singing “Let it Go” from the movie “Frozen”.

She sang in the tiniest of voices, noting later that she just loves snowflakes.

“I like it very much,” said Alana’s mother, Brittany Sisco, who was there with Alana’s little brother, Ricky, 3, and their grandmother, Jeanna Parsons. “They’re all so beautiful.”

There are 23 decorated Christmas trees inside Bishop Auditorium this year for the 22nd annual festival founded by Ann Marden, wife of Superior Court Justice Donald H. Marden, a longtime member of the Good Will-Hinckley board of trustees.

The festival runs daily through Saturday with a Hometown Turkey Dinner scheduled for Wednesday, weather permitting. The dinner, featuring local ingredients, is set for 5 p.m. Admission costs $12.

Brittany Sisco, who works at a residential home for disabled adults, said her favorite tree this year is one made by people at Skills Inc., in recognition of Maine Special Olympics.

“Our guys participate in Special Olympics. It’s nice to see something that’s related to the field that I work in,” she said.

Each year thousands of local community members fill the auditorium to view holiday trees decorated by local artists, students and nonprofits, each with a powerful story to tell, according to Heather Hodgkins, development director at Good Will-Hinckley. Schools, day care centers, seniors and group homes visit, free of charge, to view the trees, enjoy the live entertainment and visit with Santa Claus.

Every child leaves with a gift.

“We actually increased the number of trees this year. We actually have a waiting list for people who want to decorate a tree, but we ran out of space,” Hodgkins said. “We’re always so impressed with the trees. We love to invite local nonprofits, businesses and individuals. These are all handmade ornaments.”

One of Hodgkins’ favorite trees this year is one sponsored by Backyard Farms, the tomato growers in Madison. The tree is decorated with red “tomato” ornaments, with strings of red lights and real red tomatoes under the tree. Another favorite is a Christmas tree featuring photographs of past and present members of the military from Maine.

“It’s for the soldiers, and they actually have a basket down below where kids are writing Christmas cards to the troops,” she said.

Themes of festival trees this year include “Rainbow Sherbet” by a local quilting group, recycling, a tree by the Ladies Red Hat Society, the Skowhegan after school program, an earth song tree and “Angels Among Us” by the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter in Waterville.

“How it works is we invite the community to come in. The community has been really good to Good Will-Hinckley. Our kids at the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences are in internships all across Maine and beyond,” she said. “It’s kind of our way to give back.”

Rich Abramson, the school’s interim president, said Good Will-Hinckley has been an important Maine institution serving non-traditional students for 125 years.

“Our students and all of us involved in running the school look forward to the week-long Festival of Trees as a way to give back to the community that does so much to support our mission throughout the year,” he said in a news release.

Students from the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences at Good Will-Hinckley and the Glenn Stratton Learning Center who are involved in innovative, hands-on learning all year are also deeply involved in making Festival of Trees events fun and enjoyable for other young people and the larger community, Abramson said.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

Daily viewing of the trees and entertainment will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day through Saturday in Prescott Hall on the Hinckley campus. The Festival stays open into the evening Wednesday and Friday. Admission and entertainment is free to the public.

In addition to the daily viewings, the festival will include raffle prizes, a scavenger hunt, a Santa letter-writing station and even Santa himself. New this year will be raffles of 10 three-foot pre-lit trees decorated in the themes of festival participants. There will be additional events at the L.C. Bates Museum.

On Wednesday, Good Will-Hinckley will host an all-you-can-eat Down Home Turkey Dinner featuring local ingredients at 5 p.m. Immediately after dinner, the Skowhegan Area High School Concert Choir and Good Will-Hinckley students will perform live entertainment at 7 and 7:30 p.m. The entertainment is free and open to the public.

On Friday, Over the River Ringers (formerly Riverside Bell Ringers) will perform free to the public starting at 7 p.m.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow


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