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Festival of Trees Brings Holiday Cheer in Support of United Way

by on December 07, 2017 12:23 PM

Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology in Pleasant Gap will be merry and bright this weekend when the Centre County United Way hosts its annual Festival of Trees and Holiday Marketplace.

The 23rd annual three-day holiday event beginning Friday features a plethora of uniquely decorated and lighted trees.

"It is a beautiful display of trees," said Beth Shaha, Centre County United Way special events coordinator. "We have 65 trees that will be lit up and they are sponsored by businesses and a lot of our nonprofits in the area that are just interested in coming together for an event full of cheer and hope to kind of kick off the holiday season for folks."

In addition to the trees, throughout the weekend there will be plenty of other activities as well, including live music and dance from local performers. Families can get free pictures with Santa Claus and enjoy free crafts.

"We have a scavenger hunt where folks can come and have some fun looking at the trees in a more specific way," Shaha said.

A vendor market is also incorporated into the event, with all local and handmade crafts. An auction of holiday wreaths will be held throughout the weekend as well. Shaha said 20 decorated wreaths from area designers and florists will be available for auction.

CPI students also contribute to the event, preparing food and a poinsettia sale.

"We worked very well with their students to create a service-learning opportunity," Shaha said. "Their culinary students are doing a fundraiser by providing food for folks that want to come and grab some lunch or dinner. The horticultural students also do a poinsettia sale and a couple other things to help with their big trips for national competitions and that kind of thing."

The Festival of Trees is held in conjunction with Bellefonte's Victorian Christmas, which also takes place Friday through Sunday. The 36th annual celebration around downtown Bellefonte is a packed weekend of holiday events kicking off Friday night.

Victorian Christmas features music, craft sales, carriage rides, kids activities, breakfast with Santa, a Dickens troupe a new History on Wheels Tour and many more festive events throughout the weekend. [Full schedule and details]

"For the last 36 years, Bellefonte Victorian Christmas celebration is something that has really brought the town alive and through the borough, the commissioners and a lot of other organizations there’s a lot of money that’s raised every year to promote historic downtown Bellefonte," Centre County Commissioner Michael Pipe said at this week's Board of Commissioners meeting.

On Saturday a free shuttle will run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. between Bellefonte Middle School and High School parking lots, on the diamond downtown, the corner of Allegheny and Linn, and CPI for the Festival of Trees

"We work hand-in-hand with [Bellefonte Victorian Christmas] to support each other," Shaha said.

Tree sponsorships and admission ($2 for adults and $1 for children) all benefit the Centre County United Way's Partner Network of 34 organizations helping individuals and families in crisis and need.

"It’s a great way to support the community, see some beautiful trees and have a holiday pick-me-up," Shaha said.

The Festival of Trees and Holiday Marketplace will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday at CPI, 540 Harrison Road, Pleasant Gap. For a full schedule of events, food menu and other details, visit the Centre County United Way website.

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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