The “Miracle on West Morton” is the theme for this years Festival of Trees, set for this Friday through Sunday at Pathway Services on West Morton Ave.
A Jacksonville holiday tradition, the festival features designer Christmas trees, wreaths, centerpieces, gingerbread creations and other holiday decorations.
This is the third year since Pathway Services took over the festival, which was previously held by the now shuttered Woodhaven Hospice.
Barbara Solter with Pathway and the Festival of Trees says that she has worked with developmentally disabled individuals most of her life, and the benefactor of the festival is not only important, but also near and dear to her heart.
“All the proceeds from the Festival of Trees goes into a fund called Pathway Partners. This fund helps provide for the unfunded needs of our individuals who receive services at Pathway. Many times the state of Illinois, who happens to be their guardian in many cases, will give them $60.00 per month to live on. When you have to buy a pair of glasses, or need dental work, or something like that, now a days a pair of jeans can cost more that $60.00. So a lot of the things they actually still need are not really funded particularly, so this is what this money does.”
Solter said that the Pathway Partners can take care of more than just medical needs as well.
“Recently we had a fellow who was diagnosed with an inoperable tumor, and one of the items on his bucket list was that he had always wanted to go to Dollywood, and he had been saving for years and years at $20.00 a month to make a fund to be able to go.
So when we found out his situation, and that he was going to have to go into hospice care fairly soon. Some of the staff had decided that they were going to take him, and when we heard about it, we talked to them about the Pathway Partners fund.
We were able to use proceeds from the fund to help pay for his trip so he could finally go to Dollywood, and all he could say was I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it. So it was really exciting, and I think that is one of the things that makes the Festival of Trees even that much more important.”
In addition to the wide variety of holiday decorations, the Festival will have a gift shop with holiday decorations, hand-made by Pathway individuals, as well as homemade cookies and candies. Concessions will be available all three days of the Festival. Children’s activities are also on the Festival lineup, including Santa’s Story Time at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 23. There will be a minimal charge for the children’s activities and concessions. This year debit and credit cards can now be used a payment for any of the festival attractions and events.
Attendees will be entertained with sounds of the holiday season from local and area performers, including Tim Chipman, Isaiah Christianson, the Madrigal Singers from MacMurray College, Robert Sampson and students from Triopia High School.
The Choo-Choo train for kids will provide free rides in the Pathway parking lot during the Festival. In addition, four, 15-foot high decorated reindeers hitched to a 9-foot high sleigh, will greet visitors to the Festival. The reindeers and sleigh were created by the Pathway maintenance staff.
The Festival of Trees opens at 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 22, Saturday, Nov. 23, the from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. And on Sunday, Nov. 24, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The traditional auction begins at 2:30 p.m. Admission to the event is $5 for adults, $3 for students and free for children 5 and under. For additional information, contact Pathway Services, 217–479–2300 or visit PathwayServices.org.