Tlaquepaque's Festival of Trees delivers the Christmas Spirit

A Christmas tree bedecked with brightly painted recycled light bulbs of every kind? A splendid "angel tree" made of scrap roofing tin for protruding wings? Or how about a tree resembling a saguaro cactus decorated with chili pepper lights and intricately handcrafted gourds? What gives? It's Tlaquepaque's Festival of Trees, back for a second year.

Last year if you missed the wildly creative inspirations of local artists using Christmas trees as their three-dimensional canvases, you're in for a treat. The popular event/fundraiser kicks off the Friday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 27, and runs through to Sunday, Dec. 6, at the Arts & Crafts Village. The public is warmly invited to attend the free event.

Local well-known artists and Tlaquepaque galleries have been madly preparing to wow the crowds with their own artistic interpretations of this year's theme: "The Inspired Tree." Numerous galleries have entered their own artistic themes: Isadora, with Christmas Flight; Feliz Navidad with Christmas in the Desert and Festive Baby Socorro; Eclectic Images presents Angel of Kindness; El Prado's theme is Partridge in a Pear Tree by popular sculptor Mike Medow; Gifted Hands presents The Earth's Christmas.

The dazzling tree creations will be situated on the upper terrace of Patio del Norte and in Patio de las Campanas. The good news is that you can bid on one of your favorite trees and know that the proceeds are helping others and saving lives. Funds from the tree sales will benefit Toys For Tots, Camp Soaring Eagle, The Humane Society of Sedona, and Desert Star Community School. Get a jump on holiday shopping by bidding on some wonderful gift items as well -- from Tlaquepaque galleries and shops -- at the silent auction tables where proceeds will also help the designated organizations.

To help youngsters in the area who may be facing a bleak Christmas everyone is encouraged to bring an unwrapped toy. The Toys for Tots folks will provide gift-wrapping and deliver them to the kids in time for Christmas.

"Last year was such a great success we are really happy to be hosting the Festival of Trees again this year. It's a wonderful way to both celebrate the coming of Christmas and the incredible artistic talent we have here in Sedona. Lots of fun events for the whole family and kids in particular have been planned during the week. So come on out and get in the spirit," suggests Wendy Lippman managing partner of Tlaquepaque.

Be sure to bring the kids for a photo with Santa and create seasonal decorations using vibrantly colored paints on a wide variety of bisqueware pottery. Sedona's Imagine Art will be set up at Patio de las Campanas to help everyone make a one-of-a-kind tree ornament or prepare a special gift.

Here is a schedule of the Festival of Trees special events:

• Friday, Nov. 27: The Festival of Trees, The Inspired Tree event opens. 10 a.m. Get a first peek at what gifted artists do with their trees.

• Wednesday, Dec. 2: Bring your favorite pet for a photo sitting with Santa. Proceeds will benefit the Humane Society of Sedona. No pythons or alligators please! Patio de las Campanas, 1-3 p.m.

• Thursday, Dec. 3: "Senior Star Extravaganza" is especially for seniors who would like a visit and photo with Santa. Proceeds will benefit Desert Star Charter School. Patio de las Campanas, 1-3 p.m.

• Friday, Dec. 4: Enjoy First Friday and Festival of Trees Special Customer Appreciation Evening in all shops and galleries with Free Gift-wrapping sponsored by the Girl Scouts. There will also be special discounts and a gift with purchase items. Don't miss the high energy Red Rockin' Grannies performing in Patio del Norte, 4-4:30 p.m.

• Busker Eaton Jazz Trio, "an off-kilter jazz/fusion trio" with their whimsical and moody compositions using such unlikely instruments as the slide whistle, melodica and more, will perform in Patio Las Campanas, 4-7 p.m.

• Saturday, Dec. 5, "Kids Be A Star" is a great time to bring the young ones to visit Santa. Then make your ceramic holiday decorations and gifts with "Imagine Art" in Patio de las Campanas, 1-3 p.m.

The unforgettable Christmas caroling quartet, Dickens Carolers will perform in each Tlaquepaque courtyard, bringing to life the spirit of the season with a Christmas sketch, Dickens-era costumes and dance. 3-5 p.m.

Both the Festival of Trees silent holiday gifts auction and final bids on the tree auction close on Sunday the 6th at 4 p.m. "Last year with the sale of the trees and the silent auction items, we were able to help many people and worthy causes. We hope to do even better his year," says Lippman. Winners are invited to take their trees home at that time. For additional information please contact Mally Paquette, the event coordinator, at 928-592-2177. 

Tlaquepaque, the Art and Soul of Sedona, now in its 36th year, is located at 336 State Route 179 at the Oak Creek Bridge just south of 89A.

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