By Julia Purdy
KILLINGTON—Killington-Pico Area Association lit up the night Dec. 1 with its 13th annual Festival of Trees, a raffle of fully decorated Christmas trees and food drive. Kicking off the holiday season, the event continued into Saturday, Dec. 2, and included live music, visits with Santa, ornament-making and horse-drawn wagon rides.
Parking outside the Killington Grand Hotel was tight Friday evening as families and couples from around the area flocked into the hotel in a holiday mood. They were greeted by a ballroom filled with 71 Christmas trees, all donated and uniquely decorated by businesses and organizations from Rutland to Woodstock.
Vince Chiarella, a Killington resident and KPAA board member, helped to man the raffle ticket table, where bins overflowed with non-perishable food items, and raffle tickets to win a decorated tree were for sale.
“I believe in my five years in the KPAA, this is the busiest I’ve seen it on a Friday night,” he said over the din of excited voices. “It seems like everyone’s having a good time, they’re really impressed with the trees, the decorations are great, and we’re hoping for a good event.”
Outside, Piper and Bingo, a team of big Belgian draft horses, stood patiently waiting for their wagon to fill up for a turn around the hotel.
“We are Mountain’s Edge Farm out of Hinesburg, Vermont,” said Jennifer Lang, who brought the horses. “This is our fifth year coming here. It’s very busy, we have to go by a signup sheet,” Lang said. She commented that children usually want to pet the horses but are a little intimidated. “It’s a thrill for us to see the kids who have never really been that close to animals.”
Back in the crowded ballroom, ticketholders strolled and browsed for their favorite tree, excited children darted between the trees, and toddlers were a handful as they reached for shiny objects. Stocking-capped volunteers sold pizza slices and cotton candy. The resort provided a cash bar.
Many tree decorations followed themes: sports themes, snowmen, tropical vacation, winter, travel, food, Christmas presents, nature, roses, ornaments made from recycled materials such as newspaper and bottlecaps, fruit, cookies, candy, stocking stuffers, holiday party, bicycling, vegetable gardening, crafts. Lights, garlands, and tinsel icicles abounded. Imagination was the limit and nothing seemingly was overlooked.
Children lined up for Santa’s Workshop to make an ornament, listen to storytime, and sit on Santa’s knee. While they waited, they could color or draw at a long table equipped with felt markers and printed pictures of Christmas stockings and a Merry Christmas message. It was a well-attended table.
Jim Lewis is a Killington resident and volunteers in Santa’s Workshop every year, “and happily so,” he said with a big smile. “I’ve got it down pat.” He does