This past weekend was the Monticello Festival of the Trees and it was bigger and better than ever! I volunteered to do a tree for our office again this year, and it was much faster and easier (and cheaper!) this time since I saved all the ornaments I bought and made last year.
Last year, it was really just trees set up in Pioneer Park for the month of December, but there wasn’t really a community gathering that went along with it- everyone just set their trees up on their own time, and people came to look at them throughout the month. But this year the city moved the event to Veteran’s Park and put the trees under the pavilion, which I really like since the trees kept blowing over last year and we’d have to trudge through the snow to get to them to try to right them again.
Rough siding was put up on the pavilion which gives it kind of a rustic log cabin feel, and they also decorated the outside with boughs and pine cones which really added to the holiday atmosphere.
The festival was held on Saturday, and my family had gone to Moab that morning, but we raced back so that I could set up the tree for my office before the festival started at 6:00pm. I’m not sure if it was because we had spent the morning in Moab and it had been slightly warmer there, but when we came back and unloaded the tree off the top of our car and took it to the pavilion to set it up, it was FREEZING! After only about 10 minutes, I could barely feel my hands anymore! After we got the tree in the stand we drove home, I put on about 3-4 layers of clothing and bundled my son up in his snowsuit, coat, hat, scarf, and mittens, and we returned to the park so I could decorate the tree while he
played at the playground.
Since the tree I decorated is for the San Juan County Economic Development & Visitor Services office, last year I came up with the idea of buying postcards with pictures of the parks, monuments, & attractions in our county and laminating them. I wanted something that could withstand the elements since they’d be outside for a month.
It was really cold outside, but I was doing fine until it came time to tie the ribbons on all the postcards. I had to take my gloves off to do it, and my hands were so cold, I could barely get them to tie a knot, let alone 20 knots to hang up all the postcards! It was almost as if I was watching someone else’s hands work- it was really weird! But of course, I survived and got the tree done with 45 minutes to spare (I was definitely the last to get my tree done that day!)
I have to admit, after spending just 30 minutes or so decorating my tree, I was a little concerned about how cold it was going to be almost an hour later when the sun was completely down and the festival was starting. But after running home and feeding my son dinner, we bundled back up and braved the cold again!
When we arrived just a couple minutes after 6:00pm, I couldn’t believe how many people were already there! Events around here are sometimes not very well attended, but this one had a great turnout! I would guess that over the course of the evening there were probably around 200 people that came, which is definitely a successful event for Monticello.
After the opening welcome, the crowd cheered and chanted, ‘Santa! Santa!’ as a sleigh all lit up with Christmas lights pulled up to the pavilion and Santa jumped out and made his way to his seat of honor. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures of Santa- there were SO many kids there, I couldn’t even get close to where he was! (My son had already seen Santa in Moab that morning, so he had no interest in waiting in line to sit on his lap again.) Luckily a friend of mine snapped this photo of his sleigh!
Yes, I’m posting this photo of the food table twice- it was that good! There were homemade gingersnap cookies & donut holes, oranges, candy canes, and hot chocolate & mini marshmallows, plus graham crackers more marshmallows for roasting over the two fire pits they had set up outside the pavilion. It was quite an elaborate spread and it was all free to the public!
Now to the trees…
The trees looked great and the evening couldn’t have been any better! (Unless of course it could have been 15-20 degrees warmer!) It was so nice to see all the community involvement that went into it- from the local businesses who decorated trees for the event, all the work put in by the city employees and volunteers coordinating and setting everything up, and of course we can’t forget about everyone who braved the cold to come!
The trees will be set up in the pavilion at Veteran’s Park through December, so be sure to stop by and take a look- evening is the best time since they will be lit up!
In conjunction with the Festival of the Trees, two other holiday themed events are taking place around town for the next couple weeks; a Gingerbread House Tour at thirteen Monticello businesses, and a Christmas scavenger hunt- ‘Search for Santas’ is taking place in Pioneer & Veteran’s Parks.
For the Search for Santas scavenger hunt, there are nine sets of Santas to find, each with ‘Merry Christmas’ written on them in different languages. To participate, pick up a flyer at any of the Gingerbread House Tour locations (Conoco/Subway, Zions Bank, Wells Fargo, San Juan Record, Monticello Mercantile, Unique Creations, Mimi’s Thrift Emporium, Main Street Drug & Boutique, Artisan Jewelers, Southeast Utah Welcome Center, Thatzza Pizza, Mission Discovery School, or Horse Head Grill) and list the languages that each of the Christmas wishes are in & the parks where you found each group of Santas.
After completing the scavenger hunt, (you only need to find 8 of the 9 groups of Santas) take your flyer to any of the Gingerbread House Tour locations for a prize! I’m planning to take my son to do it in the next few afternoons as we have time. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun! Who doesn’t like a good scavenger hunt?! Especially scavenger hunts with prizes at the end!
To participate in the Gingerbread House Tour, stop in at any of the businesses listed above and pick up a ballot. As you make your way around town, be sure to get your ballot initialed at each location and cast a vote for your favorite gingerbread house! Turn in your ballot at any of the participating businesses to be entered into the multiple-prize drawing that will be held at Artisan Jewelers at 6:00pm on Saturday, December 17th.
The Gingerbread Houses are also being auctioned off with all proceeds going to the local Food Bank and/or Toy Drive. So if you see one you would like to take home, don’t hesitate to bid on it- it’s for a great cause!
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