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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Festival of Trees ready for annual stroll

By DON HIMSEL
Staff Writer

As families scour area parking lots and tree farms for their one seasonally perfect Christmas tree specimen, area groups and nonprofits are far ahead of the game as the annual Festival of Trees welcomes visitors for its fourth annual display at the Hunt Memorial Building in Nashua.

Area groups have set up more than 30 trees for auction, bringing the total this year to 40, and spectacularly decorated holiday delights. ...

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As families scour area parking lots and tree farms for their one seasonally perfect Christmas tree specimen, area groups and nonprofits are far ahead of the game as the annual Festival of Trees welcomes visitors for its fourth annual display at the Hunt Memorial Building in Nashua.

Area groups have set up more than 30 trees for auction, bringing the total this year to 40, and spectacularly decorated holiday delights.

"We start organizing in mid-October," said Hunt Memorial Building trustees chairman Cail Bellavance. "We have to have everything in place by the stroll."

Rows of decorated Christmas trees filled the main room of the building ahead of Saturday's epic holiday gathering, which served as the city's library between 1903 and 1970.

The money raised by the auction goes towards upkeep of the building, which was built through a gift by Mary A. Hunt and her daughter, Mary E. Hunt in the late 1890s.

"We invite businesses, nonprofits, groups and families to donate and decorate a tree," said Bellavance. "We decorate our trees, we put all of theirs in, and the first day we're open is for the Holiday Stroll."

After the trees are set up, visitors can bid on their favorites in the hopes of winning the tree or the items used to decorate it. Often, winning bids donate the tree to an organization or family the building's trustees know who would benefit from the surprise showing of holiday cheer.

Santa's Holiday Stroll visitors get the first peek at the trees on Saturday. Once the jolly old elf heads back to the North Pole that night around 8 p.m., visitors with a specific interest in the decorations and the bidding can have the display to themselves until 9 p.m.

Similarly, the next day the doors will be open from noon-4 p.m. to see the display and bid on their favorite.

The following weekend the Hunt Building will open in conjunction with the annual holiday house tour for more chances to view the display, as well as the Friday after that for the building's gala, held from 7-10 p.m.

In between the weekend showings, arranged tours for groups such as The Huntington, Hunt Community, the Plus Company, the Front Door Agency and Marguerite's Place will enjoy viewings complete with cookies, hot chocolate and for some a chance to have a quick professional photograph made for holiday giving.

The large brick building, located at the top of Main Street on a spot that continues to be called Library Hill, was built by renowned architect Ralph Adams Cram.

Money from the first three years of festivals was used to offset the restoration of the large oak front doors on the Main Street side of the building.

Tickets for the Dec. 9 gala are $25.

Don Himsel can be reached at 594-1249, dhimsel@nashuatelegraph.com, or @Telegraph_DonH.