PERRY, Iowa — A special holiday tradition has been missed at the Carnegie Library in Perry, but this year it’s making a comeback.

“Christmas and this whole holiday season is very much a celebration of lights, goodwill, peace and putting your best foot forward,” said Perry Public Library Director Mary Murphy.

Local Businesses and organizations go all out for the Festival of Trees. It started in 2014 when two volunteers came up with the idea to attract visitors to the city’s first library.

“They were trying to think what type of exhibit would bring all the community together and launch it on the night of a lighted Christmas parade,” Murphy said.

The idea worked. In 2019, there were about 50 displays and after a two-year break it’s back with 20 displays this year.

“They walk in the door and they say what an awesome building,” Murphy said. “During the festival of trees is not only an awesome building that’s been refurbished as a library in 1905.”

From traditional trees to one made out of books, as you walk through the library creativity and designs have no limits.

“Festival of trees it gives a chance for everybody coming together and showing off what they can do in creativity in the community.”

It gives an opportunity to participants to showcase their love for the holidays and share their own stories.

Artist and longtime Perry resident Betsy Peterson is one of them.

“My dad had a boat and when he named it on the back, he named it shine. And his next boat he got shine too,” Peterson said. “So shining and light have been kind of a family word and theme.”

She decided to make it her theme this year as it represents the people in her life and herself.

“I made a figure at the top that is a figure of a woman or girl that is holding a sign that says let your light shine,” Peterson said. “Because not just the star shines but we as people shine and we have things to give to others with our lives and we need to let our light shine.”

The festival is also about preserving Perry’s history.

“It was the library here for 90 years,” Murphy said, “To be able to bring this back to the community to make it come alive again, to form partnerships within the community so our children can appreciate that this was the library for 90 years before we had the new library.”

The festival not only brings the city together, it brings cultures together as well.

“Culture and community thrive not only different cultures that we are integrating into each other’s here in Perry,” Peterson said. “but the arts, the creativity, the generosity and giving spirit of the people of Perry. We thrive here.”

You can check out the displays until January 8th. You can find the hours on the Perry Public Library Facebook page.