Sue Fink of Silverdale decorates a marine life-themed tree titled “Swimming Free” on Tuesday in preparation for this weekend’s Festival of Trees at the Vern Burton Community Center in Port Angeles. The festival, which begins today with the annual Teddy Bear Tea and Festival of Trees gala and auction, is a benefit for the Olympic Medical Center Foundation. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Sue Fink of Silverdale decorates a marine life-themed tree titled “Swimming Free” on Tuesday in preparation for this weekend’s Festival of Trees at the Vern Burton Community Center in Port Angeles. The festival, which begins today with the annual Teddy Bear Tea and Festival of Trees gala and auction, is a benefit for the Olympic Medical Center Foundation. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Angeles Festival of Trees, Family Days, breakfast on menu this weekend

PORT ANGELES — The 2016 Festival of Trees Gala and Teddy Bear Tea — taking place today — are sold out, but tickets are still available for Senior Breakfast and Family Days.

The 26th annual event — taking place at the Vern Burton Community Center, 308 E. Fourth St. — is an annual fundraiser organized by the Olympic Medical Center Foundation.

Senior Breakfast begins at 8:30 a.m. Saturday and includes a sit-down breakfast. Tickets are $10 and will be available at the door.

Family Days will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

During the event, the public can view Christmas trees and wreaths custom-decorated by a cadre of local artists and listen to musical entertainers. A children’s activity area will be set up for youngsters.

Tickets are $5 each, with kids younger than 8 admitted free.

For more information, call the foundation office at 360-417-7144.

During today’s silent auction, there will be 41 6-foot-tall trees, 10 4-foot-tall trees and one 10-foot-tall tree available for purchase, Bruce Skinner, Olympic Medical Center Foundation executive director, said this week.

All the live trees are shipped in by a company based in Olympia and are treated with a fire retardant before being decorated, he said.

“Each tree has a theme, so the artist designer will come up with a theme for their tree and then we will buy ornaments accordingly to decorate the tree,” Skinner said.

About 150 artists based on the North Olympic Peninsula — three per tree — decorated the trees this year, Skinner said.

“We have a lot of designers who design the trees and decorate them,” he said.

“It has been a way for a lot of great local artists in Sequim and Port Angeles to show off their talents. There is typically a lead designer and then an average of two helpers for each tree.”

Skinner said he expects to raise more than $100,000 during today’s silent auction, which takes place at 5:30 this evening.

Skinner estimated each tree will sell for between $1,000 and $5,000, he said.

“Each tree has a premium present underneath it. We’ve got a trip to the British Open golf tournament. We’ve got a car. These are all donated items. There is all sorts of presents and premiums under the trees, so that is what drives up the price.”

The proceeds go “to all departments at the hospital,” Skinner said.

“The Olympic Medical Center will let us know where they would like funding. We are an entirely separate organization, so then our board makes a decision on what departments get funded.”

The annual fundraiser was inspired when Skinner was living in Phoenix, he said.

“I attended a Festival of Trees that was there. They hold these events in hundreds of cities [across] the United States as fundraisers. When I moved back to Port Angeles, I thought this event would work very well here and it obviously has.”

The fundraiser “has been the first or second largest fundraiser event that we do,” Skinner said.

“It has been very successful financially.”

________

Features Editor Chris McDaniel can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56650, or at cmcdaniel@peninsuladaily news.com.

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