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A special Christmas competition taking place at Philadelphia’s Love Park is offering residents and visitors an opportunity to have fun while enjoying the holiday spirit.
The Festival of Trees, benefiting the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, CHOP, is underway at the Love Park Welcome Center, also known as the “Flying Saucer.”
Hanna Hofmann, the Festival of Trees project manager, said 17 professionally decorated Christmas trees are on display, and for a small donation, people can vote for their favorite Christmas tree.
Hofmann said by making a donation of any size — starting at just $1 — “you will get a fun snowflake token,” which is used to vote for your favorite tree design.
“We’d love to have you, the admission is free, [and] everyone can join the Festival of Trees and have a look at the amazing designs,” she said. Local designers donated their time and skills to trim the live trees.
Once voting is complete on Christmas Eve, winners will be announced in the Best of Show and the People’s Choice categories.
Hofmann said 100% of the donations go to CHOP, and every donation of at least $10 is eligible to get a free hot chocolate at Christmas Village.
Dave Edwards, vice president of development at CHOP Foundation, said the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is honored to serve as the beneficiary of the inaugural Festival of Trees.
“As you can imagine it’s a tough time of year for anyone to be in the hospital,” he said. “This really lets families be able to support a patient, bring a little bit of holiday cheer to everybody as they deal with a tough time.”
He said CHOP has outstanding patient care, inpatient and outpatient services, and research, which he says “helps us not just treat the patients that are in the hospital — but making a difference in curing and preventing diseases into the future as well.”
Hofmann said working with CHOP offers a wonderful vehicle to support a very worthy cause.
“We want to support their children’s fund,” she said. “It’s a way to support research and families in need.”
Edwards said it’s wonderful to have the financial support from the festival, but stressed that community solidarity is another important benefit.
“It also just lets everybody know that people are thinking about them and gives everyone an awareness that they’re cared about and people want to help them get better,” he said.
Support for the Festival of Trees comes from major corporations, like Citadel Credit Union and Bank of America, but also includes many local supporters, including Wawa, the Philadelphia Eagles, SEPTA, the Philadelphia Zoo, and Philadelphia Insurance Companies.
The Festival of Trees display is open every day from noon to 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The event will end at 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
Hofmann said a bonus is Santa Claus will be at the festival on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
“He will be here during opening hours taking your wish list, taking photos with everyone,” she said. “We’re thrilled we have him here.”
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