Monday, October 24 , 2016, 11:51 pm | Fair 55º


Annual Festival of Trees Kicks Off Christmas in Santa Maria

Altrusa of the Central Coast opens two-week fundraiser for scholarships, grants

Those already in the Christmas spirit were able to enjoy ornate holiday displays — and visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus — during a kick-off to the season Sunday at Festival of Trees in Santa Maria.

The two-week Altrusa of the Central Coast event, which raises money for local scholarships and grants, allows area residents a chance to win one of 35 trees decorated and donated by community sponsors.

Folks who visited the festival Sunday at the Santa Maria Shopping Center, between JC Penney and Foods Co. on South Broadway, were given the event’s only chance to meet Santa and his wife.

The festive couple gave each child a book as part of Altrusa’s ongoing effort to promote literacy. They also listened to Christmas wish lists, and posed for pictures when children were brave enough to meet them.

Altrusa of the Central Coast president Melinda Aguirre said the ninth annual festival was in its first year at the new location.

Also different this year is that the nonprofit organization will dole out scholarships in the spring instead of the fall in an effort to raise more funds.

“We’re hoping to generate a lot more,” Aguirre said. “We really enjoy it. They love just to give back. We’re all dedicated the next two weeks.”

Residents can buy a chance to win a tree for $1 per ticket, or six tickets for $5. A winning ticket will be drawn for each decorated tree and gifts that are under it at 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2.

Doors will be open every day, except Thanksgiving, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. There is no charge to enter.

Sierra Banks, 8, of Orcutt, placed a ticket into a box for a chance to win a tree donated and decorated by Pan American Insurance Agency. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)
Sierra Banks, 8, of Orcutt, placed a ticket into a box for a chance to win a tree donated and decorated by Pan American Insurance Agency. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

The fundraiser, which brought in $40,000 last year, also lets attendees vote for their favorite large and small tree, and then awards that tree’s donor a plaque, Aguirre said.

Community members walked up and down the rows Sunday to size up trees, most of which had gifts tucked underneath.

Sierra Banks, 8, delivered some of her family’s 33 tickets into numbered, slotted boxes beneath each desired tree.

Her mom, Deanna Banks, said the Orcutt family is hoping to snag a larger Christmas tree because their family is growing.

“We have a real little one,” Banks said. “We’ll be back. We’re determined.”

Click here for more information on Altrusa of the Central Coast.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk's intent is not to limit the discussion of our stories but to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and must be free of profanity and abusive language and attacks.

By posting on Noozhawk, you:

» Agree to be respectful. Noozhawk encourages intelligent and impassioned discussion and debate, but now has a zero-tolerance policy for those who cannot express their opinions in a civil manner.

» Agree not to use Noozhawk’s forums for personal attacks. This includes any sort of personal attack — including, but not limited to, the people in our stories, the journalists who create these stories, fellow readers who comment on our stories, or anyone else in our community.

» Agree not to post on Noozhawk any comments that can be construed as libelous, defamatory, obscene, profane, vulgar, harmful, threatening, tortious, harassing, abusive, hateful, sexist, racially or ethnically objectionable, or that are invasive of another’s privacy.

» Agree not to post in a manner than emulates, purports or pretends to be someone else. Under no circumstances are readers posting to Noozhawk to knowingly use the name or identity of another person, whether that is another reader on this site, a public figure, celebrity, elected official or fictitious character. This also means readers will not knowingly give out any personal information of other members of these forums.

» Agree not to solicit others. You agree you will not use Noozhawk’s forums to solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites, without Noozhawk’s express written approval.

Noozhawk’s management and editors, in our sole discretion, retain the right to remove individual posts or to revoke the access privileges of anyone who we believe has violated any of these terms or any other term of this agreement; however, we are under no obligation to do so.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >