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Festival of Trees Pivots to Plan D
Sunday, November 22, 2020


Window shopping is about to take on a new look this Christmas in Sun Valley.

Eleven trees lavishly decorated for the Festival of Trees will be shown off in the windows of businesses in Ketchum and Hailey this year, with bidding taking place via phone and online.

The festival benefits The Senior Connection, which saw demand for Meals on Wheels quadruple after the coronavirus pandemic shut down the valley in March and April.

Trees will be on view at such businesses as D.L. Evans Bank, Atkinsons’ Market and Jane’s Holiday Store from Dec. 6 through 11. One can also buy decorated mini-trees or wreaths to donate as a holiday gift for those receiving Meals on Wheels, as well

“We’re not going to let COVID defeat us,” said Penny Weiss, who is co-creating the festival with Brittany Pieschl.

The pandemic hasn’t made it any easier for Festival of Trees organizers. Weiss, who owns The Event party planning business, sent out her first committee email for this year’s festival on April 19 as the pandemic was in its first wave. Since, festival volunteers have constructed four plans as they watched coronavirus cases ebb and then surge.

Just last week they had planned on having the event outdoors at Ketchum Town Square where passersby could watch volunteers decorate the trees. But rising cases across the state prompted Idaho’s governor to restrict gatherings to 10 people and so the City of Ketchum cancelled their permit.

Under the new plan decorators will decorate their trees in various places. They will then take their trees to various businesses where they will be displayed for a week while people have the chance to bid on them.

Some of this year’s trees are smaller than previous years because not everyone has room for a large tree, Weiss said.

In addition to the trees, volunteers are decorating 120 two-foot trees and wreaths, which they hope people will purchase one for themselves for $250. When they do, another will be given as a gift for seniors on the Meals on Wheels route.

“The women who work on these trees are absolutely God sent. They’re the most amazing, giving passionate, determined women there are,” said Weiss.

Online bidding will take place at Or, a would-be buyer can text a code or scan a QR code on the tree with their smart phone. Trees will be delivered on Saturday, Dec. 11.

Every dime goes to the Senior Connection, as trees and decorations are sponsored and donated.

Weiss said this year’s Festival is as much about the holiday spirit it creates as the money it raises,  especially now when some of the seniors have been isolated even from their families.

“For a small community this is awesome. We’re keeping them from feeling isolated. We’re reminding them that we still love them. And that’s life lengthening,” she said.

The Senior Connection is grateful to “Santa’s elves,” who have been working since spring to plan and develop this year’s event, said Teresa Beahen Lipman, director of The Senior Connection.

“Festival of Trees brings so much joy to our community and I think we could all use a little bit more of that right now,” she said. “Like the Great Generation, the Festival of Trees committee is being flexible and resilient by presenting this year’s event in a unique way.”

With the Senior Connection’s client list growing more than 400 percent during the pandemic, The Senior Connect has a number of new clients who will love a mini-tree or wreath, Lipman added.

“Homebound seniors are especially at risk for the feelings of isolation that we have all felt at some time during the pandemic and this will show them that they are being thought of.  I know I am going to be a ‘Santa to a senior’ again this year and I hope others will join me!”

While the Festival stands to spread joy, this year’s event has a bittersweet tinge to it.

“We’re really sad because we wanted to have this in the Town Square as a community event to lift spirits,” she said. “Since we couldn’t, we are very, very grateful to all of the establishments that agreed to give up space for a tree for a week.”

Here is a list of the trees and where they will be located:

DL EVANS BANK, Hailey—“Candy Christmas”

ATKINSONS’ MARKET, Ketchum—“Santa is Still Coming to Town”


SWAY, Ketchum—“In the Meadow We Can Build a Snowman”

ARGYROS—“Snowflake Expressions”

MOUNTAIN WEST BANK, Ketchum—“A Christmas Carroll” (Seattle Seahawk tree)

STARBUCKS, Ketchum—“Oh What Fun”

ZENERGY—“I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas, But if the White Runs Out I’ll Drink the Red”

SILVER CREEK OUTFITTERS—“Shed Happens” (antler tree)

WINDERMERE REAL ESTATE, Hailey—“Rosy Enchanted Forest”



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