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MATTOON -- Designers are gearing up to transform the Lumpkin Family Center for Health Education at Sarah Bush Lincoln into a shimmering winter wonderland for the annual Festival of Trees, now in its 20th year.

The public is invited to share in this magical event, themed “Mistletoe Magic,” from 10 am to 8 pm on Friday, Nov. 16, and 9 am to 1 pm on Saturday, Nov. 17. The foundation extends a special thank you to this year’s sponsors: Consolidated Communications (Principle Media Sponsor); Dale & Marilyn Hoots (Title Sponsor), BSA LifeStructures, Co-Bank & Coles-Moultrie Electric Cooperative, Dr. Lori & Bobbo Cudone, First Mid Bank & Trust, and Leslie Hill (Gala Sponsors); WMCI, The Party, The Axe and Victory (Memory Star Tree Title Sponsors); Adams Funeral Chapel, Adams Memorials, Anderson Electric, and Doug & Tracey McCord (Festival Sponsors).

“Festival of Trees is one of the favorite holiday events in this area and truly helps to get our community into the spirit of the season,” Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Foundation Special Events Coordinator Kim Lockart said. “We’re excited about many new additions to this year’s Festival.”

Net proceeds from Festival of Trees support the cardiology expansion project that includes a new Heart Center and 21 new private patient rooms.

The event kicks off with an exclusive preview during “Friends Night Out,” from 6 to 8 pm Thursday, Nov. 15. Guests may purchase cash-and-carry items, bid on silent auction items and view the beautifully adorned Education Center before doors open to the public the following morning. Tickets for Thursday night, which can be purchased in advance or at the door, are $10 each and include a free signature drink.

The event features 4-foot Christmas trees, centerpieces and home décor items sold by silent auction. Two-foot tabletop trees and 18-inch wreaths, designed by Sarah Bush Lincoln employees and volunteers, will be available for purchase for $40 each. Live, 6- to 8-foot Fraser fir trees, ranging in price from $55 to $65, will also be sold and are generously provided by Hager Tree Farm in Charleston.

In addition, the Merry Marketplace will feature retail items such as holiday décor, word signs, scarves and more, while Packages with Pizzazz offer themed gifts assembled in baskets or decorative boxes for that hard-to-buy-for person on your list. This year there will be even more child-focused Packages. Flesor’s Candy Kitchen will also have handmade candies available.

The festival’s premier event is the formal Gala the evening of Nov. 17, where full-size trees, wreaths and specialty items, designed, decorated, and sponsored by community members and local businesses, are sold during a live auction. All items are available for viewing throughout the three-day event and phone-in bidding is an option.

“Each year, the festival continues to grow and once again, we have some truly incredible items that we’re excited to showcase,” Lockart said, adding that musical entertainment by local artists will enhance the atmosphere during the event. “And of course the highlight among our young guests is the chance to visit with Santa Claus.”

Children are invited to have their photos taken with Santa, provided by J-Wag Photo, and enjoy Cookies with Claus, donated in part by Mark’s My Store. Kids can also have their faces painted, donated by Wild Style Design Company.

The festival will again feature the Memory Star Tree, which displays stars purchased in honor of or in memory of someone special. Following the festival, people are encouraged to take their star home to enjoy throughout the holidays. Funds raised from the Memory Star Tree benefit Lincolnland Hospice programs.

General admission for Festival of Trees is $3 for adults; children age 12 and under are admitted for free. For more information about the festival, go to www.sarahbush.org. To purchase tickets for Friends Night Out, call Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Foundation at 217-258-2511.

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