“Our tree sponsors and designers can get pretty competitive with each other,” says Goodwill (http://www.goodwillswfl.org) spokeswoman Kirsten O’Donnell. “Some of them have been with us since we started the Festival in 2007. It’s a friendly competition, but they really covet those ‘People’s Choice’ ribbons.”
Most coveted at the Festival of Trees (http://www.tuxandtrees.com) is the Best All-Around award, which this year was presented to the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center. Its 9-foot-tall tree, “Life’s A Beach- Rock Hard!” was decorated with seashells, starfish, and other beach-themed ornaments. The tree’s unique topper was a replica of one of the Art Center’s iconic cylindrical light sculptures.
For the second straight year, the Fort Myers River District Alliance (RDA) was also a crowd favorite at the festival. The RDA tree, titled “Visions of Christmas Past,” won the Most Traditional ribbon from festivalgoers. Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson also selected the RDA tree as the recipient of the annual “Mayor’s Choice” award, and News-Press Columnist Stephanie “Downtown Diva” Davis also picked the RDA tree as the “Diva’s Choice.” In 2011, the RDA won both Most Traditional and Best All-Around.
Winner of the Most Creative award was the Health & Harmony Center’s inverted tree, “Sweet Harmony.” The tree was one of two upside-down trees at the Festival, and was designed to look like a large ice cream cone, complete with sprinkles and a cherry on top.
The award-winning trees, along with the 22 others displayed at the Festival, were auctioned off at the Tux & Trees Gala, a black-tie fundraiser for the Southwest Florida Goodwill Foundation. The events have raised more than $270,000 is their first five years. Proceeds from the 2012 Festival and Gala are still being tabulated, however organizers say the final total will easily top the events’ previous fundraising record of $65,000.
The Festival of Trees is presented by FineMark National Bank & Trust, and with the assistance of sponsorships from The Home Depot, Gulfcoast Consulting Group, Aaron’s, the Fort Myers News-Press, D’Latinos Magazine, Azteca America SWFL and Sunny 106.3. Additional support was provided by Lee Designs, The Morgan House, Westco Builders of Florida, Inc., and Two Men and a Truck.
More information about the Festival of Trees and Tux & Trees Gala is available online at http://www.tuxandtrees.com.