Mary Bridge Children’s Festival of Trees is one of the South Sound’s most beloved annual holiday events. This year, Festival of Trees kicked off the holiday season on November 30 and December 1, with a spectacular winter wonderland filled with special events, live entertainment, holiday shopping, and even the chance to meet Santa Claus himself.
Since 1987, the Mary Bridge Brigade and Mary Bridge Children’s Foundation have organized the yearly Christmas fundraiser where all of the proceeds go to benefit the kids at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital.
In 1921, a group of women formed the Tacoma Orthopedic Association, known today as the Mary Bridge Brigade, making sure that all of the children in our South Sound community received the medical care that they needed and deserved. Thanks to their efforts, Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital opened in 1955, and since their first Festival of Trees in 1987, the Mary Bridge Brigade has continued to help fundraise for the children in our community annually for the last 32 years, raising over $32 million to support quality health care for all children.
This year’s Festival of Trees showcased 31 dazzlingly decorated Christmas trees that left visitors in awe. Each tree features its own unique and beautiful theme, and is auctioned off at the festival’s evening events, Tinsel on the Town and their black tie Gala. Each display’s exquisitely decorated trees shimmer with lights, ornaments, and beautiful props, bringing the different themes to life. Each tree comes with different gifts related to its theme, ranging from top of the line bikes and toys, to luxury vacations, cruise trips, local getaways, sports tickets, and more.
Some of this year’s unique Christmas tree themes included Gnome Place Like Home, Under the Sea, A Seahawks Holiday, and A Whale of a Tale. The festival also featured a number of complexly decorated Christmas-themed trees like A Beary Merry Christmas, Downhome Country Christmas, Christmas Staycation, Nordic Frost, and From the Forest, just in time to get festival visitors in the holiday spirit. A number of beautifully decorated miniature trees and holiday wreathes were also up for auction, perfect for making your home merry and bright.
Throughout the festival weekend, each evening entailed a different fundraising event for Mary Bridge. Festival of Trees kicked off the season of giving with Tinsel on the Town, where guests enjoyed a lively night out with dinner, dancing, a select live-tree auction and live music from DJ Kryspin. All proceeds from Tinsel on the Town go towards Mary Bridge Children’s Parenting Partnership program. Each year more than 650 fragile infants graduate from the MultiCare Tacoma General Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to officially begin their lives at home. The transition from NICU to home can be challenging, but thanks to the generous contributions that come from the Festival of Trees, the Parenting Partnership program is able to provide ongoing support to families of NICU graduates to promote healthier families and outcomes.
The rest of the elaborate tree displays and wreathes went up for auction at the festival’s final evening event of the weekend, their black tie Gala, which supports the Where The Need Is Greatest Fund. This powerful group of funds is managed completely by volunteers who represent the various populations and areas in which MultiCare serves. When physicians and health care providers at Mary Bridge come across urgent needs for funding, the Where The Need Is Greatest Fund helps improve the way the Mary Bridge is able to assist the children in their care. These funds have helped support a brand new Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, the construction of a new state-of-the-art emergency department, as well as a new facility that provides mental health care for children and teens in our community.
Other ways that funds from Festival of Trees has helped support the children in our community over the years has included treating victims of child abuse and neglect, funding the Bridges Center for Grieving Children, preventing the neglect and abuse of medically fragile babies, as well as helping children born with birth defects and various medical conditions.
This year’s festival theme was named All is Calm, All is Bright. “No matter what is happening in the world, the providers, staff and volunteers at Mary Bridge provide calm nights and bright futures for children and families,” says Chelsea Boseley, the 2018 Festival of Trees Chair.