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A holiday festival that's outside the box

The New York Mills High School Jazz Band performed Christmas carols at the 2011 Christmas Tree Festival. They will perform again at this year's festival.

There is more to decorating a tree than stringing lights and hanging glass bulbs. At least, that's the theory behind the annual Christmas Tree Festival in New York Mills.

At 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23, the doors will open in the NY Mills City Ballroom for a first glimpse at this year's collection of trees, decorated by area businesses and individuals.

"I've seen the entrants this year, and they are thinking outside the box and doing really different things," festival organizer Dolly Tumberg said of the tree decorations.

For example, one business is trying to figure out how to hang its tree from the ceiling like a mobile. Others have given their trees a theme, such as, "It Takes a Village to Have a Merry Christmas" and "Home for Christmas."

"We exceeded entrants from last year already," Tumberg said.

The 15th annual Christmas Tree Festival, with the theme "Deck the Halls," kicks off on the Friday after Thanksgiving for nine days of holiday activities.

Friday, Nov. 23, kids can decorate cookies from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The Bake Shoppe will provide a giant cookie along with frosting, sprinkles and candy for young aspiring bakers.

A bake and craft sale will also be set up Friday night for parents to browse. Chili and chowder supper will be available at the senior center from 4-9 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 25 at 2 p.m., enjoy a Community Nativity scene. The NY Mills High School drama director, Rebecca Clarksean, will direct the program.

"It will be a fun event, and it is nondenominational," so everyone can enjoy it, Tumberg said.

Monday, Nov. 26 at 7 p.m., the NY Mills High School Jazz Band will entertain tree viewers with holiday tunes.

Tumburg said the acoustics in the ballroom ensure a wonderful performance.

New to the festival this year, area youth from Wendy's Ballet Dance group will perform Tuesday, Nov. 27 at 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 28 will be Senior Day. New Horizons will sponsor a free luncheon for seniors from 1-3 p.m.

Thursday, Nov. 29 there will be wine and beer sampling and hors' d'oeuvres sponsored by Mills Liquors, along with the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center's silent auction from 6-9 p.m.

The Christmas Tree Festival will end on Saturday, Dec 1. From noon to 3 p.m., kids can stop in and see Santa and Mrs. Clause, watch a movie on a giant screen and sign up for prizes. Local vendors will have displays set up for shopping convenience.

Events will continue at 6 p.m. with the Community Christmas Party. A social hour will start at 6, followed by dinner at 7 and a dance at 8:30 p.m.

Tickets for the Community Christmas Party are $20 for the entire evening, or $5 for the dance. All other events during the week are free will admission with proceeds benefiting Santa Anonymous.

Many trees - including everything the businesses have used to garnish it with - will be available for silent auction.

Throughout the nine-day festival, visitors can vote for their favorite tree.

For more information, including Christmas tree viewing times, contact Dolly Tumberg at 385-3691.