DES MOINES, Iowa — A vibrant Christmas tradition inspired Iowans to give to those in need this holiday season.
The 38th Annual Festival of Trees and Lights occupied the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center inside of Veterans Memorial Auditorium this weekend.
While the festival, true to its name, featured creative Christmas trees and light displays, its main purpose was to raise money for Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines.
“A lot of people in our community and statewide have been touched by Blank Children’s Hospital, and this is an easy way to give back,” said Blank Children’s Hospital senior director of development Alissa McKinney. “It’s the kickoff to the holiday season.”
“Buying a ticket is helping us make a difference back at the hospital for our patients and families,” McKinney said.
Some patrons such as Melvin Woods said they came to the festival mainly to donate to the hospital.
“You’re able to come down here and see there are people who feel the same way that you do and want to share this great spirit,” Woods said.
The festival returned in person this year after it moved to a virtual setting last year due to COVID-19 concerns. However, there were still adjustments: the normally five-day festival shrunk to three days, guests were guided on a tour of the trees, and all attendees had to wear a mask.
McKinney said she’s happy the fundraiser could come together at all.
“We all take things for granted sometimes. All of a sudden, when you can’t do something, it’s surprising,” McKinney said. “To be able to bring it back, I think it’s meant a lot to folks. It’s amazing that an event has lasted for 38 years; that in itself is a huge tribute.”