Christmas in October? This is the time the designers of dozens of Christmas trees started working for the 21st annual Festival of Trees.
The annual Festival of Trees event auctions off decorated Christmas trees, wreaths, gingerbread houses and accompanying prizes where all the proceeds go toward the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley.
Jaci Hoffman has been volunteering for the event for nine years, ever since she saw a “looking for volunteers” message in The Signal. Now she serves as the volunteer chair for the event and her family members are involved in some capacity.
“It’s fun to do with the family and it’s a great cause to help the Boys & Girls Club,” she said.
Hoffman said this event is the second largest fundraising event for the organization.
Dozens of trees were created for this year’s event, each with their own theme.
“A lot of brainstorming to come up with different ideas and concepts,” said Cindy Dadik, one of the tree designers. “We want to make sure each tree has a theme and there’s no duplicates.”
Inspirations for the trees came from many places. Some featured all handmade ornaments and others started with a single word as inspiration.
“Honestly, for me that ribbon, there’s a scrap of ribbon on the tree, and I just thought it was so beautiful and I just went from there,” said Dadik.
Taylor Dadik, another tree designer, started with just wanting to create a rainbow tree. Her concept quickly evolved as it took on another meaning.
“I’m also a very big ally of the LGBTQ+ community and so I thought it was something nice to indirectly support them,” said Taylor. “I wanted to honor them, honor the whole community.”
The group of designers varies in all sorts of backgrounds. Most are interior designers, one is a graphic designer, another is a professor and Cindy is a former buyer for home furnishings. All of the designers set up shop in early October at the former Charming Charlie’s location inside the Valencia Town Center mall. The trees took months to complete and were a true representation of hours upon hours of hard work.
“It’s like an everyday thing,” said Taylor. “You’re going there for like three or four hours putting everything, together at least.”
Cindy said most free days the team had, they would enter in the morning and come out to pitch black darkness.
“I enjoy watching it start from a bare tree with lights, all the way to beautiful,” said Margie Hoffman, a 12-year member of the designer crew. “They start with a vague idea what they want to do, but as they’re doing, they keep adding and changing and it evolves.”
The trio all agreed on the reasons they come back to the event: for the people and the cause.
“The people that are involved are so wonderful,” said Cindy. “A big happy family. It’s a lot of camaraderie. It’s a lot of fun.”
“It’s nice being able to combine my love for creativity and my love for the community, mush it into one and that’s my child,” said Taylor.
A Taylor Swift eras tree, Barbie tree, peacock tree and Coco Chanel tree were just a few of the dozens of finished products.
Months of work all led up to Friday night at the Festival of Trees. People competed in bidding for the majority of the trees that were accompanied with prizes such as L.A. Kings tickets, L.A. Dodger tickets and a one-week vacation.
In years past, trees have been auctioned for up to $7,000.
“We put our heart and souls in the tree, so that they get what they can,” said Cindy.
“It was rewarding watching two people keep going up on price over this one tree,” said Taylor.
On Saturday the Canyon Country Community Center opened its doors to the public where hundreds were in and out to witness the trees in all their glory. The trees were accompanied by handmade wreaths and gingerbread homes, as well as an opportunity for crafts, live performances and a picture with Santa.
A handful of trees were boasting a blue ribbon that was awarded to them the night before.
- “OMG! Garland tree!” first place for most spirited.
- “The Magic of Santa” first place for Mrs. Claus’ choice
- “Come on Barbie, let’s go Party!” first place for most creative.
- “Spherical Miracle” first place for most merry and bright.
- “Holly & Bright” first place for most jolly.
- “Magic of the Holidays” first place for most cheerful.
Attendee Katie Kukuna said she was in attendance to see one of the trees her friend designed. As she made her way through the lines of trees, she was constantly snapping pictures and taking mental notes.
“It’s really cute and it is a good idea to get ideas,” said Kukuna.
The remainder of the trees, gingerbread houses and wreaths waited for an online bidder to take them home for the holiday season.
The Festival of Trees continues 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at the Canyon Country Community Center, 18410 Sierra Highway, Santa Clarita.