Inside the dimly lit Eloise B. Houchens Center, tinsel sparkles, Christmas ornaments shine and strings of lights glow brightly around 31 trees spread throughout the building.
With the theme “The Sights, Sounds and Scents of Christmas,” the center hosted an open house Friday to kick off its celebration of the 31st annual Trees of Christmas.
“That’s when I got in the Christmas spirit. I wanted to go decorate my own house,” said Anne Grubbs, a committee member for the event. “People come and get ideas, and I got some of my own.”
Thirty-one civic clubs and organizations in the community set out to decorate the trees inside the home, each adding their own flavor, like the American Red Cross’ “Remember Red Cross at the Holidays” tree.
The white tree is trimmed in red with red ornaments hanging from its branches.
“Every year, the board comes up with a theme, and a couple wanted to do something with gingerbread and some wanted it to be about all the pretty things,” Grubbs said. “So we kind of came to a consensus and tailored it a bit.”
Another tree, “The Family Feast,” done by the Warren County Home Economics Alumni of Western Kentucky University, features vegetables, fruits and even a miniature jar of pickles.
Each room of the home, from the front hall to the second floor kitchen, has two to four decorated trees, such as the March of Dimes’ “Babes in Toyland” table tree, Community Education’s “Spice, Sparkle and Song” tree, which boasts big bulb lights, miniature drum ornaments and gingerbread men, and the Barren River Imaginative Museum of Science’s “Starry Nights” in the Altrusa Room.
“All the stars were handmade by the children of Jeff Moore, president of BRIMS,” said Romanza Johnson, who helped decorate a number of the trees inside the home.
In the Woman’s Club room, two trees of interest were the Bowling Green Woman’s Club’s “Sustainability at its Best.” A reminder to recycle, the tree is decorated with recycled light bulbs – some painted, some with fuzzy balls and some that look like Santa.
The other was done by the President’s Club of Southcentral Kentucky, called a “Bluegrass Christmas.” The tree, trimmed in blue lights, blue tinsel and blue bulb ornaments, is decked out with little bottles of whisky and bourbon, miniature horses, guitars and trumpets.
The Garden Center room smelled of spice and gingerbread, thanks to the Bowling Green Garden Club’s “Gingerbread, Spice and Everything Nice” tree, decorated in gingerbread ornaments, dried orange slices, pine cones and scented bags.
In addition to some more traditional trees, there were some that were different, such as Community Action’s “Have you Seen Santa,” where Santa is wrapped around the tree, and the Briarwood Homemakers’ “Stitching for the Holidays,” which has gold tinsel and carefully placed stitched handkerchiefs on the tree’s branches.
“They were my grandmother’s and mother’s handkerchiefs,” Johnson said. “I loved being able to use them.”
At the bottom of each tree is a jar. Rather than charge admission, Grubbs said people asked to vote for their favorite tree with a donation. The money used will go to the upkeep of the home, she said.
The center, among all the trees, will host a shopping day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday. Fourteen vendors will showcase a variety of items, ranging from needlework, jewelry to woodwork.
“This is a day we invite people who do handcrafted goodies to come in and set up, and people who want to get gifts can get quality, Kentucky handmade products,” Grubbs said.
She said the center will sell bag lunches for $7.
The Houchens Center has hosted the annual festival for many years, Johnson said. She said it also allows those who never visited the center the opportunity to come tour the home.
This event fits well with that venue, Grubbs said. Plus, the event is an outlet for the groups, she said.
“The house is so pretty … and a nice backdrop,” she said. “This is one of the best years we’ve had. I don’t know why, but it’s very appealing this year. There are some very elegant trees … it’s just a cozy feeling.”
— For more information, call 842- 6761.
Jordan, Natalie (2009, December). Trees of Christmas. Bowling Green Daily News. Retrieved from http://www.bgdailynews.com/features/trees-of-christmas/article_bc86898e-295b-585e-84d4-7261d555e49d.html