Christmas is around the corner and soon the halls of the historic Concord Hotel will be glowing with the glitter of the fifth annual "Festival of Trees."
Hosted by the Mariam Hayes Society for the benefit of the Boys and Girls Club, the "Festival of Trees" will kick off on Friday for a week of celebrations.
The festival features more than 35 decorated Christmas trees, provided by sponsors of the festival, and five days of events.
Festival participants give a donation for the privilege of sponsoring a tree and usually they decorate their own tree.
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If the sponsor chooses not to decorate the tree, the Mariam Hayes Society works with a group of creative volunteer decorators who transform the trees into bright, sparkling masterpieces.
Funds raised from the Festival of Trees will go directly to the Boys and Girls Club of Cabarrus County. The club provides a variety of activities that meet the needs and interests of all young people.
"Core programs encourage activities with adults, peers and family members that enable kids to enhance self-esteem and fulfill their potential," said Debbie Little, a spokesperson for the event.
Little is one of many members of the Mariam Hayes Society; which was organized in 2004 by a group of women from Cabarrus County interested in assisting in fundraising efforts for the Boys and Girls Club.
More than 35 local women make up the society and meet monthly to plan new fundraising efforts and ways to volunteer their time and talents to the club.
"We named the society after Mariam Cannon Hayes to honor a lifetime donor who made a lasting impact on the Boys and Girls Club through the years," said Little. "The Festival of Trees was adopted as the lead fundraising event by the society during its first year and premiered the first festival in December 2005."
The "Deck the Halls Gala" will start the celebrations on Friday and will feature the band North Tower, a fully catered menu and an open bar. Tickets cost $55.
"The gala allows Boys and Girls Club supporters a first look at the theme decorated Christmas Trees," said Little. "They also have time for fellowship with friends, event sponsors, club volunteers and board members. The event raises much needed funds for the Boys and Girls Club of Cabarrus County."
Following the gala on Friday is a special event for children called, "Winter Wonderland."
Held on Saturday, the event will include activity stations, snacks, picture opportunities with Santa, storytime with Mrs. Claus and a gift for each child.
On Sunday, holiday-revelers can enjoy "Lunch Amongst the Trees."
"'Lunch Amongst the Trees' is just what it sounds like - a delicious meal amidst the gorgeous theme decorated trees," said Little. "This event is for the old and young alike. A special guest always checks in to see who is being naughty or nice."
The last two days of the festival will open the doors of the Concord Hotel Ballroom for free viewings of the decorated trees.
"Viewing at these times is free, but, of course, any donations are greatly appreciated and go to a worthy cause," said Little.