Saturday, March 23, 2013

Festival of Trees 2012... Decorating Day

First thing you need to understand is that the tree is supposed to be constructed in such a way that it will never come apart.  Never.  Every ornament is wired or zip tied to the tree.  The top of each bulb is glued on.  Nothing is supposed to move.  After the festival is over they transport the trees, whole, to their new home.  You have to use the tree stands that they sell.  You put pvc pipe through the center of the trunk.  You run rebar along the outside of the trunk then you strategically use bolts, screws and hose clamps to make the tree completely stable and permanently joined.

Every 9'x7' space is asked to provide flooring.  Yes, the flooring goes with the tree and everything else.  See previous post for more on that.  My original plan for the flooring consisted of joining game boards together.  We liked this configuration pretty well.  In the end we scrapped the idea because we worried it would look messy. 

We thought we would make it easier on ourselves by making a giant Twister board out of particleboard.  It was NOT easier.  My poor husband spent hours making this floor.  The floor was absolutely perfect.  Thanks Honey!

The convention center was to be open from 7:00am until 7:00pm to allow people to decorate.  I expected we'd need most of that time. We loaded everything into the Acadia and Trailblazer the night before. 

We arrived at the convention center around 8:00am and the place was already buzzing with activity.  The loading dock doors were open and freezing cold air was blasting through the building.  Doug went and got us some hot chocolate to help keep us warm. 

We had piles everywhere.

First up was the domino garland.  Every domino was drilled with two holes then connected with zip ties. 

Every domino was set in a specific order so each length of garland was labeled with a number.  We finished the garland on the tree and zip tied it to the tree so that it would not move or break.

People kept coming up and asking if we had bought the garland somewhere.  Nope.  I drilled 400 dominos three different times thanks to my fantastic birthday present.  Yes, that baby is mine.  I have my very own drill press.

I digress.

My sister, Rebecca, came to help and support.  It was wonderful to share this experience with her.  Rebecca spent every moment she could with my Elizabeth during her short week on this earth.  Rebecca took more that 1000 photos that week.  As we decorated, we reminisced about Elizabeth.  We discussed the hours we spent as children playing many of the games represented on the tree.  Rebecca encouraged me to keep moving when I thought I was going to collapse. 

These ladies were instrumental in completing the project.  I met LaRae (far left) at church, the day before decorating day.  She was there the entire day.  She even called in her husband as reinforcements when I thought I was sinking and wouldn't finish.  Ashley (second from the left) has been my friend and neighbor for about 3 years.  She helped with ornaments and crafts during the months leading up the main event.  She put in almost as many hours as I did on decorating day and brought her husband in to help.  The lady in red is a good friend from my single days.  Kerry's arrival felt like the cavalry had arrived.  She brought us a picnic lunch to keep us going.

I spent almost every minute of "free" time I had over the space of 5 months to make this tree. All of the tree decorations were made from game pieces.   Every ornament was hand crafted.  It was a labor of love and dedication to my artistic vision.  I am extremely grateful to my husband, family, friends, neighbors and even some strangers, who gave up their time, talents and finances to bring this to life.

Just look at that veritable sea of trees.  It was awe inspiring to think that all of the time, the trees and crafts were donated to help the Primary Children's Hospital.  I don't know how much was raised in 2012.  In 2011 the festival raised more than 1.5 million dollars.

Check out our finished space.

Stay tuned for information on the individual ornaments and crafts.


  1. Thank you for posting. I remember you (and another friend) posting updates on FB but hadn't seen any pictures. I can't wait to read more about your tree. It's an amazing tribute to Elizabeth.

  2. To my fantastic, wonderful, beautiful and amazing daughter Jessica,
    Stay tuned for a later comment on this fantastic, wonderful, beautiful, difficult project. I'm still working on my Sunday School lesson. Love, Mom