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Trees ring in the season

Festival of Trees viewing extended, 50 firs on display

There is a large variety of trees decorated by local businesses and organizations on display during the Festival of Trees at the Schenectady County Historical Society and nearby YWCA until Sunday, Dec. 11. The two groups extended the viewing time by a full week this year due to popular demand.

There is a large variety of trees decorated by local businesses and organizations on display during the Festival of Trees at the Schenectady County Historical Society and nearby YWCA until Sunday, Dec. 11. The two groups extended the viewing time by a full week this year due to popular demand. Photo by John Purcell.

— The annual Festival of Trees has spread festive cheer for nearly a week, but unlike previous shows, you haven’t missed out just yet.

In response to comments that a week wasn’t long enough, the 5th annual Festival of Trees is lasting over two weeks and showcases around 50 trees. The Schenectady County Historical Society and the Schenectady YWCA host the annual holiday event, which features Christmas trees prepared by local business and community groups on display at the Historical Society’s headquarters and the YWCA.

Both locations are a snowball throw from each other on Washington Avenue in Schenectady. The event kicked off on Friday, Nov. 25, and there are daily showings until Sunday, Dec. 11.

“We have had others comment over the years that it is really too short, so having it over two weeks is really nice,” said JoAnne Rafalik, director of development and communications at the YWCA.

Local businesses and community groups are given free rein to create whatever kind of holiday tree they imagine. Sometimes a tree will have a certain theme relating the group and trees are often decorated in ways you wouldn’t normally see in someone’s living room.

Ryan Mahoney, curator for the Historical Society, said the event allows businesses to connect with residents in a different way. He added it brings new people into the society’s building.

“Businesses get to promote themselves on the ways they decorate the trees. It is a great relationship with the community and local businesses,” said Mahoney. “We get a great attendance, which is awesome because you get a whole different type of crowd coming to the society that wouldn’t normally come here.”

Rafalik said the event brings some people into the YWCA for the first time. She noted the building has been in Schenectady since 1933.

“It always amazes me how many people haven’t been in the building. It is really a neat building to explore,” she said. “As they look around they will ask questions about the different programs we have.”

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