By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News
Extravagantly festive Christmas trees and wreaths adorned the Orca Ballroom at the Tulalip Resort Casino during the 38th annual Festival of Trees. The multi-day holiday fundraiser kicked off November 29 with a free community day and teddy bear celebration. Opportunities to give generously via an online auction accompanied the much anticipated, excitement-filled Holiday Gala and Live Auction held in person on December 1.
Each year, thousands of community members take part in the Festival of Trees – including volunteers, sponsors, and attendees – to raise funds for Children’s Services at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett. For more than three decades, Providence Children’s Center has been providing comprehensive, family-oriented care and highly specialized therapies; such as physical, occupational, speech and feeding therapy for children with a wide variety of special needs.
When asked to explain the importance of Tulalip hosting high-impact, community-changing events at our flagship Resort Casino, Marilyn Sheldon said, “Tulalip Tribes has so much to offer our community all times of the year, but Christmas time it becomes magical. Showcasing our Resort Casino in this manner brings to light what Tulalip has: shopping, gaming, restaurants, recreation, and an amazing holiday light display for families to enjoy. It gives Tulalip a different perspective in the eyes of our community. We need that to encourage others to want to visit each and every year. We want to be that traditional Christmas event every year!”
Beyond hosting the always astounding Festival featuring towering Christmas trees and festive fervor, the Tribe was this year’s presenting sponsor as well.
“An event of this scale brings all the movers and shakers of Snohomish County to our house where we can showcase how much we care and want to be a part of the solution; helping youth in their most trying times. But also, being vested in such a worthy organization, like Providence Hospital Medical Center, provides immeasurable goodwill back to Tulalip. We can always use this kind of support for our future endeavors,” added Marilyn, Charitable Contributions Director.
A highlight of the holiday season, the Festival of Trees provides opportunities for local families and organizations to make a significant contribution to benefit their community neighbors. Not to mention the festive, memory-making opportunities for those seeking a post-Covid experience in a heart-warming atmosphere. Whether it’s a decadent black-tie gala or an afternoon with cookies and Santa, the Festival’s variety of events offer holiday cheer for all.
The tremendously decorated Christmas trees won’t soon be forgotten as their specialized themes like ‘A Night at the Nutcracker’ and ‘All Aboard the Polar Express’ to ‘Candy Land Delight’ and ‘Wintery Dreamscape’ capture the imagination.
During an elegant gala, the dazzling Christmas trees and wreaths were sold to the highest bidders during a frenetic live auction that saw auctioneer Mark Schenfeld’s contagious energy get table after table to lift bidding paddles. Of course, all proceeds raised at Festival of Trees goes directly to Providence to aid, invest in, and expand programs and infrastructure related to Children’s Services.
The Children’s Services Fund is designed to provide a full spectrum of support for services that benefit children at Providence. Funding supports programs and services such as Pediatrics, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Children’s Center, Boyden Family Autism Center, and Camp Prov, a summer camp for children with special needs. Several of the trees lining the Orca Ballroom were reserved to be put on display throughout the Children’s Center as a special treat for hospitalized kids this holiday season.
Because of the great generosity of various donors, table sponsors, and an astounding 525 gala guests, this year’s Festival of Trees raised a whopping $1.32 Million. This enormous amount of financial support allows Providence to continue growing and expanding specialized therapies, equipment, and educational classes that make miracles happen for children and families every day.
Worth mentioning, during the live auction there were two trees bid on and won with the intention of keeping them right here on the reservation. Both trees have been installed and are on display for the local community to enjoy through the holiday season; one is at the Senior Center, while the other is at the Health Clinic.
For over two decades now, the Tulalip Tribes has been an important partner to Providence in the Northwest Washington Region by helping provide critical funding and support needed to care for the health of our growing community. Contributions made by Tulalip to Providence General Foundation since 2002 have totaled over one million dollars. For their dedication to the Festival of Trees, the Tulalip Tribes were honored with the Spirit of Festival Award during 2018’s Festival.
“The lives of thousands of children, including Tulalip tribal children, will be helped thanks to the generosity received from the Festival of Trees fundraising efforts,” said Board of Director Mel Sheldon, an eighteen-year member of the Providence General Foundation. “We are very fortunate to have a relationship with Providence Medical Center and to support such an amazing opportunity that really looks at the bigger picture. We all want to do our part to create a sustainable and healthy community.”
One of Snohomish County’s largest and most well-attended holiday events, the Festival of Trees has been a beloved community tradition for 38 years. The annual outpouring of community spirit, combined with such a magical setting, delivered a wonderful event that united so many during the holiday season.