50th Festival of Trees goes virtual

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – 2020 marks 50 years of Festival of Trees. While 2020 is not like any other year, this Utah tradition continues to raise money for Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital.

Katy Welkie the CEO of Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital puts it pretty simple, “We certainly don’t want it to interfere with our 50th anniversary celebration .”

In a year like none other, the Festival of Trees comes alive in a new way and a new home.

Mark Powell from Vivint Arena said, “In a normal year, we wouldn’t be able to do this – so we are considering this a great opportunity.”

The Vivint Arena has been empty since March, but it is now filled with Christmas cheer. The Festival of Trees has set up 150 trees and all of their holiday décor on the arena floor.  This is where the virtual event will come to life.

One benefit of the different format, each of the tree’s stories can really be told; Including Linda Meier’s story.

Meier said, “Nicole passed away just before we were to do her tree. I had made a promise to her, so the next year I did her tree.”

Linda Meier has now put together 29 trees in the memory of her daughter Nicole. Nicole fought cancer at Primary Children’s Hospital. While she didn’t make it, the Meier family honors her memory by helping other families in need.

Meier explained, “Nicole loved Christmas. I always feel like she is there and helping us and she knows what’s going on. It brings comfort and joy .”

Not only is the Meier family honoring their daughter, the family knows first-hand how the money raised during the festival makes a difference.

There is no question, this family will always be a part of this Utah tradition.

Meier added, “It has been a lot of fun. We expect to do it for as long as I can.”

Right now you can buy some of the holiday décor from the virtual Festival of Trees. Next week the festival goes live for the online tree bidding. New this year, a live broadcast from the arena with some very special guests. While this is different, it is a new way to enjoy the 50 year tradition.

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