The winter holiday season in Tracy begins Friday morning at the Tracy Portuguese Hall and Tracy Ballroom with the three-day Festival of Trees.
In its 11th year, the showcase of 34 trees and numerous wreaths, decorated by local volunteers and sponsored by citizens and local businesses, will again raise close to $200,000 to improve the lives of Tracy children.
Most of the events at the festival again are sold out, save one — the Saturday and Sunday public viewing of the decorated trees, wreaths, lights and the activities associated with this year’s theme, “Santa’s Workshop.” It’s a tradition for families to visit the two halls, make and take home crafts, buy gifts at Santa’s Secret Shop and the Festival Gift Boutique, enter into the opportunity drawing for three decorated trees and, of course, meet Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Two social affairs are scheduled Friday — the Silver Bells Social for senior citizens and the Premier Night Soiree black-tie dinner auction. Saturday night, there’s the Jingle Bell Jam dinner-dance auction, and Saturday and Sunday, there are Teddy Bear Tea Parties for children.
Ten years of such events have raised more than $1.8 million for Tracy Hospital Foundation-funded health activities for Tracy youngsters.
Until 2006, the money was designated only for CPR for Kids, an instructional program for Tracy third- and sixth-graders to learn life-saving techniques. The foundation added children’s obesity to the list of challenges. Already this year, the foundation has launched Project Fit America and Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH), national programs that teach children in their schools about healthy choices through exercise on the playground and diet, including in the lunchroom.
CPR for Kids has trained more than 55,000 children (or at least half the community) in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. It’s a local approuch that has saved lives.
The move to reduce children’s obesity has opened even more community sponsors for the festival. That has allowed the Festival of Trees to withstand any slowdown in the financial support from residential developers that other local charities have felt since Tracy went into a six-year, extremely slow-growth mode.
But much of the money raised for improving our children’s lives comes from you, the citizens of Tracy who visit the festival and its events and bid on the decorated trees, whether it’s $5 or $5,000. Join in the Festival of Trees celebration this weekend.