Schenectady Festival of Trees to start Saturday; 70-plus trees to be lit in annual fundraiser

The Festival of Trees will be open for viewing daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. starting Saturday until Dec. 23 at the SCHS and YWCA. (photo provided)

The Festival of Trees will be open for viewing daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. starting Saturday until Dec. 23 at the SCHS and YWCA. (photo provided)

SCHENECTADY – The Schenectady County Historical Society and YWCA Northeastern NY will light up with over 70 Christmas trees starting this Saturday for its annual fundraiser, the Festival of Trees.

“The Festival of Trees is our holiday celebration,” said Mary Zawacki, the executive director of the historical society. “It’s meant to be a bright spot for the community — something that’s very relaxing and family-oriented and a way to get into the season.”

According to Zawacki, the Festival of Trees has been a historical society and YWCA tradition for over two decades. For the event, local businesses and companies sponsor a tree to decorate. The trees will then be displayed inside the historical society and YWCA.

“It is totally a winter wonderland, completely,” said Zawacki. “We keep the lights off so everything is very dim except for the trees themselves, which are sparkling.

“We want it to be very immersive. You walk in and you feel, ‘okay, I’m in Christmas-land.’ ”

Some of the businesses and companies that will be making a fir tree appearance at this year’s Festival of Trees include the Goldfish Swim School, Ellis Hospital, Concerned for the Hungry, Inc. and Storied Coffee.

This will be Storied Coffee’s first year participating in the event, inspired by their previous involvement with and appreciation for the YWCA and the historical society.

“It was fun to make the tree represent Storied and what we are all about,” said co-owner Rich Sarnacki, noting that the shop’s tree is decorated with a variety of coffee and tea-themed ornaments. “I think it will be impactful for people to see the number of organizations represented and the variety of organizations represented.

“It will be a compelling thing to see how many people are supporting these organizations.”

The event will run until Dec. 23, with funds going to the historical society and YWCA. Some trees even include supplies like feminine hygiene products and non-perishable food that will be donated to the YWCA, a support and empowerment service for women, after the festival closes.

“People are really thoughtful and intentional about what they’re doing and it kind of mixes fun and festive but it also stays true to the YWCA mission,” said Lauren Trunko, the YWCA’s chief development officer.

But, although the Festival of Trees is important in uplifting the missions of the historical society and YWCA, it is more than just a fundraiser — it’s also a demonstration of community, which can already be especially prevalent during the holiday season.

“I think it is a time when people are looking for community, open to community, and things like this bring together not only individuals but also organizations throughout our area,” said Sarnacki.

Additionally, according to Zawacki, the powerful nature of Schenectady’s community heightens the Festival of Trees’ feeling of camaraderie even further.

“Schenectady is a very strong community that is very supportive of each other and we work together,” said Zawacki. “We are definitely in it together striving for a better future for everyone.”

The Festival of Trees will be open for viewing daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily starting Dec. 3 until Dec. 23 at the Schenectady County Historical Society and YWCA. There will be an ornament-making activity on Dec. 3, and Santa Claus will be in attendance on Dec. 10. Admission is $6 for adults and free for children under 12 years old.

Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts, Life and Arts, Schenectady

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