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The 50th annual Festival of Trees is going on now

Posted at 1:56 PM, Dec 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-04 15:14:09-05

While the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted how we are able to connect with each other and ring in the holiday season, it can’t take away our holiday spirit, nor one of our community’s most treasured holiday celebrations.

This year, The Festival of Trees, one of the region’s most enduring and beloved annual holiday traditions, will celebrate its 50th anniversary in a reimagined way.

The fundraiser for Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, produced by the Intermountain Foundation, will be virtual – from the tree auction to the fudge sales, and even Zoom calls with Santa – at MakeGoodGrow.org.

Embracing this unique opportunity to bring the festival and all its holiday fun directly to people at home, this year’s festival will include the first-ever virtual live broadcast from Vivint Arena on Dec. 4, featuring musical entertainment, patient and volunteer stories, and special celebrity guests.

The broadcast will be co-hosted by vocalist and actor Alex Boyé, along with former Primary Children’s patients Cami Carver and Payson Inkley.

The theme for this year’s festival is “Make Good Grow,” which reflects the effort to bring holiday joy and festivity to the community despite the pandemic, and the festival’s focus of raising money to help children receiving specialized care at Primary Children’s Hospital.

“We are delighted that the festival will be back and better than ever despite the obstacles this year has presented. We are perhaps most excited to introduce our first-ever live broadcast with Alex, Cami and Payson, running the show together – they are all rock stars who will bring much-needed holiday spirit to the homes of families across our entire region,” said Shauna Davis, Festival of Trees Volunteer board chair.

“Our community has always been so generous with its support of the festival in years past. This year, we’re encouraging everyone to check out the website MakeGoodGrow.org and take part in the new virtual celebration, and to help us bring joy to children and families who receive care at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital,” Davis added.

In the new virtual format, Vivint Arena, the home of the Utah Jazz, is serving as host for both the live broadcast and the decorated trees that have long served as a hallmark of the event.

“I’m thrilled to team up with the Intermountain Foundation and Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital to take part in a festival first by co-hosting the live broadcast with Cami and Payson,” said Boyé. “It has been a challenging several months for many and it’s my hope that we can spread love and light throughout the community with this year’s festival. Our live broadcast will be full of special surprises, so we hope everyone will tune in to join the fun.”

The digital hub for this year’s festival – MakeGoodGrow.org – is helping bring the festival to people at home with new, engaging interactive elements.

Using the virtual tree decorator, users will be able to adorn a bare tree with ornaments, lights, garland and tree toppers. The individually decorated trees can then be framed and downloaded or shared with friends – all without leaving the house.

The public also will be able to browse and shop virtually at MakeGoodGrow.org , where they can purchase quilts, famous festival fudge, and other holiday-themed items such as home décor, games, costumes, baby kits, backpacks, sweatshirts and more.

Virtual attendees will have the opportunity to place bids in the festival’s silent auction, opening Dec. 1. They also can sign up for a “Zoom with Santa” – a virtual Zoom video call with Santa Claus himself.

Last year’s in-person Festival of Trees attracted about 100,000 people and raised about $2.6 million for the hospital.