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Volunteers Prepare Smaller Festival of Trees

By Kristen Keleschenyi
The Tube City Almanac
November 30, 2020
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Tube City Almanac file photo)


McKeesport’s Festival of Trees is coming together at the Jacob Woll Pavilion in Renziehausen Park—though smaller than in previous years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The annual event, a staple of the holiday season for the past 35 years, is scheduled to open to the public from 2 to 8 p.m. daily Dec. 3 through 7.

“We will do our best to continue this tradition—boosting our community’s morale and holiday spirit while respecting COVID-related guidelines and recommendations,” McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko says.

Organizers have had to modify the event to allow for social distancing and the recommended safety protocols.

There are fewer trees than usual — about 40 instead of the usual 75 to 90 — and there will be no live entertainment or hayrides through Renzie, organizers said.

The concession area has been modified and will be limited to carry out items, including hot cocoa and sweets. The nearby McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center will not be displaying trees this year, either, a spokesperson said.

Community groups and organizations were assigned a specific time to be in the pavilion to decorate. Once the event is open to the public, a limited number of guests will be allowed inside at a time and volunteers and staff members will also be adjusted based on the pavilion’s occupancy. There will be directional signs to guide guests along a specific path to view the trees.

Although this year’s event may not attract the usual crowds, there is no fee to attend this year’s festival. Pennsylvania American Water Co. has offered to sponsor the event and their donation will cover the usual requested donation for admission.

“2020 has been a difficult year on so many levels,” Jason Gentile, PAWC senior manager of operations for southwestern Pennsylvania says. “There has never been a more critical time to support one another and lend a charitable hand to our communities. We’re happy to support this local tradition and provide families with an opportunity to safely celebrate the holiday season.”

If COVID-19 numbers continue to escalate and new county or state health guidelines prohibit in-person viewing of trees, organizers say they are prepared to go online only. City officials said to watch McKeesport’s website, mckeesport-pa.gov, and the mayor’s Facebook page for updates.


Kristen Keleschenyi is a freelance writer in North Versailles Twp. and one of the hosts of the Kristen & Amber Show on WMCK Internet Radio at 5 p.m. Saturdays, 9 p.m. Mondays and 4 p.m. Thursdays. She may be reached at kbishop25@hotmail.com.

Originally published November 30, 2020.

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