O' Tannenbaum!

The Saratoga Springs City Center will be home to more than 250 trees, wreaths and centerpieces decked out for the holidays, as it hosts its 11th annual Festival of Trees from Wednesday, Nov. 29 to Sunday, Dec. 3.

We're so happy to be entering our 11th year in Saratoga, said Sister Charla Commins, executive director of Catholic Charities, a ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Albany. Proceeds from the festival benefit Catholic charities in Saratoga, Warren and Washington Counties.

The festival kicks off with the annual preview reception on Wednesday, Nov. 29, from 6 until 8 p.m. For a $50 donation, the public will get a preview of the decorations. There will also be local entertainment by guitarist Jeff Brisbin and pianist Brenda Vredenburg, and hors d'oeuvres compliments of Saratoga Springs eateries the Olde Bryan Inn and Longfellows.

While the $50 donation is required for this part of the event, Commins said it is a donation and not an admission fee, so it should be tax deductible.

"It's a real community event," Mark Baker, president of the Saratoga Springs City Center, said of the event. Baker said the festival provides something for everyone, regardless of age, "and that's why it's become an anchor event for the Victorian Streetwalk." This year's streetwalk takes place a day after the Festival of Trees' preview reception, on Nov. 30.

"In some cases they just wow you," Baker said of the trees. Each major tree has a theme to its decorations, said Baker. He recalled that the in the festival that followed Sept. 11, 2001, he saw a lot of red, white and blue incorporated into the trees.

"You look at some trees and say, 'How did they do that?'" he said.

Earline Johnson, event chairwoman of the festival, said there is no overlying theme for this year's trees, giving their decorators complete creative control over their trees.

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