Festival of Trees fundraiser

Laura Evans, who has been attending the annual Festival of Trees fundraiser for the Kennedy Krieger Institute since she was a small child, works on her 4-foot tree that will be on display during the festival this weekend in Timonium. (Photo by Steve Ruark / November 19, 2012)

From what Laura Evans has been told, she has been attending Kennedy Krieger Institute's Festival of Trees every year since she was in a stroller.

A holiday tradition for her family, the Catonsville resident thought the festival, with its collection of Christmas trees, wreaths and gingerbread houses, was "a magical place."

Now 27, Evans is still enchanted by the festival.

She also now recognizes the event as a fundraiser for Kennedy Krieger Institute, which helps children and adolescents with disorders and injuries of the brain and spinal cord.

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A creative person by nature, Evans decided this year, it was time for her to help out.

"It is just a good cause," Evans said. "I'm really proud to say I've gone every year."

After this weekend, Evans will also be able to say she participated as she is decorating a 4-foot tree to be sold at the festival.

This marks the first year for 4-foot trees to be decorated. In the past, only 2- and 7-foot trees have been featured.

"We had an idea that a lot of people in downtown with row homes might not have room for a 7-foot tree," said Jennifer Burke, communications coordinator for Kennedy Krieger. "A 4-foot tree is perfect for those row homes. It gives people another option."

All 600 decorated trees will be for sale during the festival, with prices ranging from $15 to $500, Burke said.

Kennedy Krieger Institute's staff determine the cost of each tree after seeing them decorated and on display.

Over the past 22 years, the festival has raised $13 million for the institute, with more than 50,000 people attending the three-day event, Burke said.

Throughout the years, Evans has had many "favorite trees," including a "blue" tree and a Victorian-style tree.

For her tree, Evans chose a beach/nautical theme, she said, because she loves the beach.

"I pretty much had this idea from the get go," she said. "It's an interesting blend. People don't think of going to the beach in December."

Seashells sprinkled with glitter and a wooden sign pointing to the beach are some of the ornaments Evans made for her tree.

Everything will come together, she hopes, when she gets to decorate the tree at the fairgrounds.

"I feel I over-made a few ornaments," Evans said. "I made a lot of stuff. It's been a fun process. It gave me something to do in the evening."

Already, her thoughts are turning to next year's festival. She is thinking about doing a traditional tree with glass balls, or an "upcycle" tree that features ornaments that had a "previous life" as something else – like an aluminum can. She may even try to tackle a 7-foot tree.

"To get to the 7-foot tree level, there is a lot of time needed," Evans said. "I would need to start a little sooner. You don't want the tree to be too cluttered, too pushed, too gaudy."