Heritage Square, 500 Dakota Ave. in Wahpeton, is the site for a record 45 Christmas trees. The fourth annual Festival of Trees is now on display for visitors of all ages.
Since 2018, the Festival of Trees has provided artificial Christmas trees sponsored and decorated by community businesses, organizations and families. Those trees will be donated to families and senior citizens in Wahpeton, Breckenridge, Minnesota, and the surrounding area who otherwise would not have a tree for the holiday season.
“Isn’t it something?” Tami Sirek asked. “Who would have thought that when I placed one little Christmas tree outside my studio, it would grow into this? And it’s endured, even past COVID-19.”
Sirek, one of downtown Wahpeton’s business owners, said she is proud of how many people take part in donating to the festival.
“KrAz Dance brought in 25 little girls and they all decorated their tree together. I didn’t know if they could get another girl around that tree,” Sirek said.
It is amazing to see the Twin Towns Area respond as well as it does, Richland-Wilkin Kinship Director Rebekah Christensen said. For her, it is a reminder of a giving, compassionate local community.
“My part in all this is that I find the families that are in need of trees. I work with Tammy Juneau from the RSR Human Services Zone in Wahpeton. The applications have been trickling in and we have room to receive more,” Christensen said.
To receive an application for a donated tree, contact Kinship at 509 1/2 Dakota Ave. Suite 104, Wahpeton, ND, 58075, or by calling 701-672-0303. You can also contact Juneau at 413 Third Ave. N., Wahpeton, ND, 58075, or by calling 701-642-7751. Festival of Trees applications must be returned to the above addresses by Tuesday, Dec. 7.
“This is a one-time opportunity as your tree will bring you joy for many years,” organizers state. “We would love you be a blessing to your family this Christmas. Bear in mind that we may have more applications than trees.”
Anyone receiving a tree will be contacted on approximately Thursday, Dec. 9. Tree recipients are responsible for taking down and transporting their trees between 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 21. Deliveries are not available.
“The trees are new, decorated and can be used year after year,” Christensen said. “We want to reach the people who need them this year.”
Heritage Square will host another local tradition, Wahpeton’s annual city Christmas tree lighting. The ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 23, with the actual lighting at 6 p.m. Following the downtown lighting, the free Holiday Lane lights and decorations attraction opens in Chahinkapa Park. Holiday Lane is located off of Second Street North and can be viewed nightly through December 31.
There are so many little reasons why Sirek continues to support Festival of Trees, she said.
“I had a family come in to decorate,” she said. “They had two little boys. They said, ‘We’re volunteering so we can give back to a family in need. We didn’t realize until we got here there was so much. We’re pretty lucky kids to have our own tree.’ Every age I talked to, they understand. That’s why you do the things you do. You just never know where it leads.”