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Festival of Trees today in Drake library

Drake Community Library will be decorated with a multitude of themed Christmas trees.

With the end of Thanksgiving break, Drake Community Library is starting off the holiday season today, Friday, Dec. 5 with their Festival of Trees event, held in the library from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Drake Community Library will be decorated with a multitude of themed Christmas trees.
Drake Community Library will be decorated with a multitude of themed Christmas trees.

Sponsored by the Friends of Drake Community Library, a community group dedicated to enriching the public library, this holiday event invites community businesses, groups and members to decorate artificial Christmas trees, or for the more creative, to build their own tree out of any media they choose.

The festivities are seen as a fundraising event for the library. Those attending the event can get involved by voting for their favorite tree with either dollars or coins in the boxes set out by each entry. All of the proceeds from today’s event will go back to the library to help programs run year-round.

Each tree, along with the voting and donation collection boxes, is handcrafted by Gary Mertens, a member of Friends of Drake Community Library. “Gary is like the Tree man,” said board member and former secretary Vince Eckhart, who is also a professor in the Biology Department.

Sit and Knit, a local organization of knitters, have also produced unique ornaments, decorations and Christmas hats that are for sale with proceeds going towards the library. There will also be performances by the Grinnell Middle School Jazz Band and Honor Choir in this year’s festivities, as well as a visit from Santa Claus.

Tree designs by community groups are encouraged to be as creative as possible. “We’ve had lots of creative ways of showing the holiday spirit, for example, the [Grinnell] Historical Museum has often used props from exhibits in their museum,” said Marilyn Kennett, director of Drake Community Library.

The Grinnell Arts Council’s afterschool program “Studio 6” will be entering a tree this year, titled “Peace on Earth.”

“They are planning on having a book next to it with all of the students, with how all of them wish for peace,” said Christian Lutz, director of the Grinnell Arts Council.

Kennett stated that she expects today’s installment to live up to fast festivals, predicting that around 200 community members will attend.  An event similar to Festival of Trees is celebrated in many towns, but Kennett described Grinnell’s as more organic, with a more community-centric feel.

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