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Nearly 100 groups participating in this year’s event—the 38th
Kerri Bryer, English teacher at McKeesport Senior High School, works with student Brianna Mignogna of White Oak add finishing touches to their Acts of Kindness tree. (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)
If you go...
McKeesport’s 38th Festival of Trees
Where: Jacob Woll Pavilion, Renziehausen Park, 201 Sycamore Drive
When: 12 to 8 p.m. Dec. 7-11
More information: https://www.facebook.com/mckeesportfestivaloftrees
McKeesport’s 38th annual Festival of Trees is shaping up as one of the city’s largest ever.
Almost 100 community groups, organizations and businesses are participating in the event, which opened its doors at 12 noon today and continues through Monday (Dec. 11).
Organizations throughout the McKeesport area have been anticipating this yearly event. McKeesport Community Gardens will be taking part in the festival for the first time, said Laura Bosnak Thompson, who has been involved with the group since 1996.
“We’ll be setting up a tree with decorative garden shovels, garden tools and little seed packets,” Bosnak Thompson said.
Members of the 20th Century Club of McKeesport, including Chris Drecnik from Canonsburg and Debbie Stewart, Joan Petty and Linda Bennett from Elizabeth decorate their tree, called “Everyone Loves Barbie.” The tree pays homage to former member Barbara Rotheram Meredith, who recently passed away. (Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)
Trees on display in the Jacob Woll Pavilion at Renziehausen Park showcase a variety of themes, including education, culture and faith. The McKeesport Dek Hockey Association, represented by Andrew and Victoria Miller, is among groups taking part in the event for the first time.
“Our tree is hockey-oriented,” Andrew Miller said. “We have ornaments that represent all the different teams.”
McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said the annual holiday tradition is an “extremely exciting” time of year for area residents.
“It’s always one of my favorite events,” he said. “When we talk about ‘Working Together for a Better McKeesport,’ the Festival of Trees is one of those events that unites people. I like to see everyone working together to make this event happen.”
This evening, Boy Scout and Girl Scout groups will sing carols to welcome Santa, who will arrive on a McKeesport Fire Department truck at 6:30 p.m. Organizers recommend that visitors who want to welcome Santa arrive no later than 6:15 p.m.
Entertainment will continue throughout the event, with McKeesport band leader Mikey Dee taking the stage inside, beginning at 7 p.m. Culinary students from Auberle will operate the refreshment stand and McKeesport’s Semper Fidelis Club is holding a bake sale.
Pat Maksin, who retired from the McKeesport Area School District after 36 years as a teacher, said she has been attending the Festival of Trees “for many years —first with our children, and now with our grandchildren. It is a wonderful event that showcases Renzie Park and transforms it into a winter wonderland.”
She praised the event and its impact on the holiday season. “The trees themselves are beautiful each year, and the rest of the park is sparkling with lights and decorations,” Maksin said. “Nothing puts me in a festive mood more than visiting the Festival of Trees.”
Elizabeth Laughlin is a freelance writer and a doctoral student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Vickie Babyak is a photographer and freelance writer from Dravosburg. She may be reached at email@example.com.
(Vickie Babyak photo for Tube City Almanac)
Originally published December 07, 2023.