Celebrate Christmas joy | RecordCourier.com

Celebrate Christmas joy

by Autumn Whitney
awhitney@tahoedailytribune.com

December has arrived — time to get into the Christmas spirit! Kick off the holidays with Barton Health's Festival of Trees and Lights, which returns to MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa for its eighth year Friday through Sunday. Featuring fun fit for the whole family, the annual event is not only festive and entertaining, but is also a fundraiser for Barton Health's Cancer Wellness Program.

"For a lot of people it's become a tradition, there are people who come every year and they really look forward to it. It spreads a good feeling during the holidays through our community, who feel like they're doing something good — doing Christmas stuff and also supporting the community through a good cause," Barton Foundation staff member Tania Pilkinton said.

During the course of the weekend-long festival, attendees have the opportunity to visit the Teddy Bear Hospital, enjoy live entertainment, participate in crafts and a raffle, and, of course, meet Santa.

"One of the most popular evenings is our Family Night on Friday. Marcia Sarosik's Shining Stars come and dance, South Tahoe High School dance team and Paul Kusher's Elementary School Choir will both be here.

"It's really an active night with lots of families here," Pilkinton said.

The event is open for public viewing on Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Throughout the two-day public viewing, guests will enjoy entertainment from Strolling Minstrel & Magical Moment, Tammy Owens and more.

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On Saturday evening from 5-11:30 p.m., The Gala takes over the venue. A black tie dinner that shouldn't be missed, the five-course meal is accompanied by dancing and more, and proceeds go to funding Barton Foundation's Community Health Endowment.

Another top highlight of the weekend is Sunday's Teddy Bear Brunch, which closes out the festival. Children should bring their favorite teddy bear, from home or the Teddy Bear Hospital, to be pampered at the meal. Tickets are available online and should be purchased ahead of time, as the brunch traditionally sells out.

Additional festival activities include silent and live auctions, as well as raffles. Designer trees will once again be on display — themes include steampunk, The Wizard of Oz, Celtic and many more.

Public viewing is $3 for seniors and children ages 2-12, and $5 for 13 and older. Festival of Trees and Lights is a fundraiser for Barton Health's Cancer Wellness Program.

"We chose cancer wellness, one because there are so many people in the community who have cancer or care for someone with cancer, and we recognize that right now we're not in a situation where we can provide all the medical services they need, but we can help their journey by giving them support services.

"There are so many things we want to do to make it easier. Cancer wellness can apply to anyone getting treatment anywhere. They can come to us for supportive services and make their journey a little less difficult. The more we got involved, the more we learned it affects so many of our community members," Pilkinton said.

To purchase tickets for festival events, and to learn more, visit http://www.festivaloftreeslaketahoe.org.