This year’s Festival of Trees Chairman has deep ties to the annual fundraising event, presented by Friends of Hospice. Karla Wieland-Cherry has been involved since 1987 when she was home from college during Thanksgiving break. Over the years, Karla was a fashion show model, a raffle ticket salesman, and a tree decorator. Wherever there was a need for a volunteer, Karla stepped in to help.
Before too many years passed, Karla became a hospice nurse. She said, “I was one of the first nurses to provide patient care in the newly built Talbot Hospice House in 1998.”
Attending the Festival of Trees then became an annual tradition with her own family. She explained, “We all participated in some fashion…including the Fashion Shows. My daughter sang for a number of years with my husband on piano. My son helped me with my Tabletop Trees Chairman work. And now, this year, I am honored to be Chairman for the Festival of Trees.”
Karla admits that it’s a lot of work for the entire Festival of Trees committee but that it’s always rewarding to see the final touches come into focus. She said, “My goal this year is to reach further out into the community to people and groups who are unfamiliar with the Festival of Trees and invite them to come out and see the gorgeous trees and start the holiday season off with a song in their hearts with our theme, Caroling, Caroling Through the Town. We can’t thank the community and businesses enough for their support financially and the volunteer work that takes a year to plan and put together.”
Friends of Hospice was formed in 1984 and began hosting the Festival of Trees in 1986 to raise money for the Talbot Hospice Foundation. To date, more than $3.7 million has been raised by the Festival of Trees to assist with Talbot Hospice’s operating budget.
Festival of Trees Serving Up Holiday Fun
The 38th Festival of Trees will take place in Easton on November 25 through 28. Events include the Festival of Trees, which is held in the Tidewater Inn, as well as Carols by Candlelight, Santa 5K Fun Run, Poinsettia Sale, Santa’s Workshop, and a Holiday House Tour. This year’s theme is “Caroling, Caroling Through the Town,” with a nod to the Victorian era.
In sync with this year’s Victorian theme, the Preview Gala will return to a more formal affair on Friday, November 24 with the kickoff of the Festival of Trees. From 6 to 8 p.m., guests will have the first opportunity to view 100 exquisitely trimmed trees of varying sizes. Tickets to the Preview Gala are available in advance only for $125 per person or $200 per couple. While the larger trees are sponsored in advance, Preview Gala guests get the first opportunity to purchase the smaller trees, from 12 inches to three feet, in varying price ranges.
Greeted by snow upon arrival, guests will enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres and signature cocktails in the Gold Ballroom at The Tidewater Inn while listening to the piano tunes of the talented Joan Dent. Dale Jafari is Preview Gala Chairman, Ashley Robinson is co-chairman, and Gail Shorter and Reza Jafari are committee members.
Dale said, “We are very excited to elegantly present this year’s Victorian theme of Caroling, Caroling Through the Town. In addition to mouth-watering hors d’oeuvres by The Tidewater Inn, there will be Victorian streetlamps to set the tone as well as a snowy entrance to welcome guests upon their arrival.”
In years past, Dale and her husband, Reza, participated in the Festival of Trees as small tree decorators. Together they feel strongly about helping in any way they can to support Talbot Hospice. When Dale was offered the position of Preview Gala Chairman, she was happy to provide that service. “Hospice was unbelievably helpful to us as we dealt with the loss of my mother in 2019,” she explained. “It is a debt I can never repay.”
Tickets to the Preview Gala are for sale in advance at www.festival-of-trees.org.
Festival of Trees
The signature event, the Festival of Trees in the Gold Ballroom, will be a sight to behold with its array of decorated trees and live entertainment. Many talented decorators spend untold hours turning the trees into something magical. Poinsettias and the Hospice tree are lovely additions to the room as well. The public is invited to view the trees for $10 on the following dates:
Saturday, November 25 • 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Sunday, November 26 • 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
Monday, November 27 • 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Tuesday, November 28 • 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Carols by Candlelight
This magical free holiday event for all families returns for a fourth year. Choral groups, bell ringers, and musicians will perform, and all spectators will receive a complimentary candle at Carols by Candlelight on Saturday, November 25 from 5 to 7 p.m. in downtown Easton on Harrison Street between Glenwood Avenue and Dover Street. Hot cocoa and holiday treats will be served as the crowd spreads holiday cheer in song. The celebration begins with a festive holiday marketplace. Twinkling holiday accessories will be sold by Santa’s elves to help celebrate the beginning of the Christmas season in downtown Easton, a small town with a big holiday heart.
Santa 5K Fun Run
The Santa 5K Fun Run returns this year with running enthusiast Alisha Saulsbury serving as Chairman. A long-time volunteer for Friends of Hospice, Alisha first sold cookies with her oldest child at the Festival of Trees. She co-founded the Mother-Son Dance, which enjoyed a nine-year run with her middle son helping along the way. The Fun Run was a way of supporting Talbot Hospice alongside her youngest child and incorporated a sport she loves. The run begins and ends at Idlewild Park in Easton on November 25 with registration in advance at www.fesival-of-trees.org or on site at 8 a.m. There will be age division awards and T shirts for pre-registrants. Participants are encouraged to dress as elves. Cost is $40 per person. Registration is open now at www.festival-of-trees.org.
A Holiday House Tour is always a favorite leading up to the Christmas holidays. Mulberry Manor on Matthewstown Road in Easton will be elegantly decorated for the season and feature 10 Christmas trees. Tours will be available from noon to 8 p.m. on November 25 and from noon to 5 p.m. on November 26. Tickets cost $20 in advance at www.festival-of-trees.org and on site the day of for $25. Homemade Christmas cookies and a festive drink will be provided as guests leave the home. Other features to look forward to will include a visit by Santa, at least a dozen outdoor inflatables, carolers and more.
The newest Festival of Trees event is being introduced on Sunday, November 26 and is sure to please the younger holiday revelers as Santa makes a visit and his elves offer free activities. For the admittance cost to the Festival of Trees, parents and guardians may enjoy activities together with children of all ages from noon to 4 p.m. in the Tidewater Inn’s Gold Ballroom Garden, in the outdoor rotunda just off the Gold Ballroom. Chairman Kari Diefenderfer and her committee members have been creating props for photo opportunities and preparing activities for months.
To get involved in any capacity, big or small, contact Karla Wieland-Cherry at [email protected] or 410-310-8421. Tickets are available at www.festival-of-trees.org. Visit the Festival of Trees on Facebook and Instagram.