A new Christmas tradition is adding glow to the holiday season in Tonopah.
The inaugural Festival of Trees debuted Dec. 11 in the Tonopah Convention Center, where nearly 20 Christmas trees, of all sizes and designs were featured.
“We invited the community to come out and decorate the trees and make the community magical,” coordinator Deb Cobb said as she stood among the illuminated trees inside the darkened convention center’s large room.
“This is the first time we have ever done this in Tonopah so we are looking forward to this becoming a tradition,” Cobb said. “Why not be magical at Christmastime? Why can’t it be magical for our kids and families and make them feel warm, no matter where they are.”
The Festival of Trees, a free family-oriented event, was spearheaded by the Community Youth Advisory Council and Central Nevada Grange.
It was a chance for various groups, businesses, families and others to create their own unique Christmas trees for public display.
“We had everything from the Rotary to the Salvation Army to the schools, PIC/SolarReserve, the Historic Mining Park, Tonopah Justice Court, Renown Medical Group, the Tonopah High School (varsity girls) basketball team,” Cobb said.
The list also included private individuals and businesses, the town of Tonopah, Cobb’s family farm and groups such as the Tonopah Preschool, 4-H in Round Mountain and WestCare.
“Multiple people,” she said. “They all decorated them, too, made the decorations to a theme they wanted to show here.”
Though the Festival of Trees spanned four hours from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., participants arrived at 10 a.m. to start decorating.
“It’s really amazing,” said Layla Ramirez, 14, of Tonopah, part of the Community Youth Advisory Council. “It’s magical. There are so many trees, it’s so beautiful.”
She was impressed by “seeing all the parents and kids, seeing the community come together to look at all the beautiful trees.”
Multiple tree themes
A tree festival Cobb attended in Atlanta helped inspire the Tonopah event, which included Christmas songs performed by Tonopah Middle School students, a children’s Christmas story time and recorded Christmas music.
For those who could not attend, Cobb provided tree descriptions to the Times-Bonanza as she stood among them.
Ayers Creations, for example, displayed a tree with Western-themed decorations. Renown’s tree featured the health provider’s purple and gold colors. The Cobb family farm’s tree featured traditional sagebrush in Nevada colors of blue and silver.
Nearby was “a traditional English tree that you’d see in England from the olden days,” Cobb said. “It was always the gold and the greens and reds.”
“We have the Tonopah Middle School Student Council,” Cobb said. “They did it as a school. They’ve got rulers and apples on their tree to talk about their school stuff.”
Tonopah High School’s girls basketball team brought a sports theme to its tree. “All of the kids painted orange balls to make basketballs. All the decorations they made themselves.”
Scolari’s Food &Drug, Tonopah’s only grocery store, showcased two trees.
“They have all different types of food on their tree, and the other Scolari’s tree is honoring our troops,” Cobb said. “It’s red, white and blue, completely all the way down and supporting our local heroes in our town.”
She described the PIC/SolarReserve entry as an “amazing tree.”
“The decorations are ornaments with seeds in them so that they can take them off their tree and go plant them, and they’ll grow shrubbery that is native to this area. So their tree is all about putting back into the earth.”
The tree from the Best Western Hi-Desert Inn is really cute, Cobb said.
“If you look over there, it’s all about having a sweet tooth. We’ve got gingerbread and lollipops, and it’s all about candy and sweets and Christmas delights.”
In a Facebook post, town staffer Shari Bombard described the Christmas tree from Tonopah’s Historic Mining Park.
“It’s a Historic Tonopah tree,” she wrote. “There are 10 framed photos of Tonopah, with dates varying from 1900-1917, rusted ornaments, and a rock tree skirt with rocks from the Mining Park. Special thanks to Tonopah resident Cindy Zimmerman for all her help with the crafting part! She is amazing!”
Bolstering those in need
By creating the trees, participants also helped others in the community.
“We are going to have a silent auction to start a Tonopah disaster fund for the less fortunate people,” Cobb said. “The disaster fund will help people maybe who are ill, maybe help them get gas cards so they can get medical treatment or help get to a family member. All of the proceeds go to that. Everybody here is on board with that.”
The silent auction featured the trees themselves with all but about three donated to raise funds for the Tonopah disaster fund.
“They take the whole tree home with them, decorated and everything,” Cobb said of successful silent auction bidders. “Most of these trees have $100 to $150 invested in the trees so these groups and private people have donated them and helped to raise money.”
Contact reporter David Jacobs at firstname.lastname@example.org