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Festival of Trees marks the holiday season

Spruce up your holiday at the Providence Festival of Trees. The 20th annual fundraiser for Providence Medford Medical Center offers an extravagant wonderland of festively decorated trees of all sizes, along with wreaths and mantelpieces, decorated by local businesses, interior designers, florists and others.

Festivities kick off at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 30, with an opening-night gala at the Medford Armory, 1701 S. Pacific Highway. A black-tie reception and silent auction for small trees, wreaths and mantelpieces will begin at 5:30 p.m. A dinner and live auction of larger trees will follow. Tickets cost $150, and reservations must be made by 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 28. Call 541-732-6768. Proceeds will benefit the Providence Spine Institute.

Over the past 20 years, the Festival of Trees has raised millions of dollars for medical technology and programs at the center. The Spine Institute is a new initiative advancing and expanding the existing spine program into a comprehensive, interdisciplinary effort that focuses on relieving back pain and suffering.

Of the designers, Juanita Ford of Grants Pass designed and decorated four trees for this year's event. Ford won best of show for her first tree design in 2003 and has been a winner five times since.

"I love to do it," Ford says. "I look forward to new designs, colors and interests."

Ford and three of her relatives who live in the San Francisco Bay Area donate their time for the annual fundraiser. They visit stores after Christmas to purchase marked-down, decorative items they can incorporate into trees the following year. All the trees are artificial, so buyers can use them again and again.

The benefit's holiday party will be from 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1, in the armory. There will be live music by the Colonel Mustard band, lots of hors d'oeuvres and desserts to taste, as well as beer and wine. Admission to the holiday party is $50. Tickets are available by calling 541-732-6768 or at the door. Reservations can be made by calling 541-732-5193.

Holiday trees and decorations will remain at the armory for public viewing from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4.

Musicians and dancers will perform throughout the three days. Friday's highlights include choirs from local high schools and middle schools, along with the Central Point Senior Singers and Rogue Valley Accordion Ensemble.

Saturday will feature Fusion Dance Center, the Southern Oregon Heavy Metal Music Society, Medford Civic Ballet and the Siskiyou Violins, among others. Sunday's entertainment includes pianist Bryce Miller, the Rogue Valley Alphorns, Sacred Heart Church Choir and Rogue Valley Harmonizers.

Raffles will be held for a holiday table setting, trees loaded with gift certificates, home-entertainment components, Disney gift cards, a living-room setup with entertainment center and 16GB iPad and winter sports certificates. Raffle tickets cost $2 or three for $5. Winning tickets will be drawn at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4.

Santa Claus will be on hand for photographs with children. Photos cost $5. Visitors are welcome to bring their own cameras.

Admission is $5, $3 for adults 60 and older and children ages 2 through 12. See www.mailtribune.com/festivaloftrees for information.

A cuddly stuffed toy and lots of ribbon and lights adorn a tree from a past Festival of Trees to benefit Providence Medford Medical Center. - MT file photo