Erie’s Festival of Trees is virtual but adds a drive-through lights show

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The 36th annual Festival of Trees is underway but with some 2020-type innovations.

Decorated trees traditionally displayed at Erie’s Bayfront Convention Center are instead on display in a free virtual gallery. Viewers can vote for their favorite online at

There’s also a live event, a drive-through lights show at Fairview Business Park.

Part of the Festival of Trees lights display is shown during a trial run on Tuesday in Fairview.

The festival opened Friday and continues through Sunday. It’s sponsored by Saint Vincent Hospital and Children’s Miracle Network.

“There will be a little bit of everything this year,” said Christine Bowen, executive director of advancement at Saint Vincent. “We’re doing our best to bring all the magic of the Festival of Trees to the outdoors. We will have scenes and costumed characters and thousands of lights.”

The outdoor event also features daily appearances by Santa Claus and some of his reindeer and a lights show timed to music by Erie High School.

Deb Apthorp, left, holds Annabelle, one of three reindeer she and husband Scott brought from their Apthorp Farms in North East, during the 36th annual Festival of Trees drive-through event at Fairview Business Park on Friday.

“If you haven’t been here, it’s beautiful,” Bowen said of Fairview Business Park, at 7401 Klier Drive, just north of the Fairview interchange of Interstate 90. “It is a park overlooking a pond. It’s really a magical place.”

Organizers began setting up lights donated for the event in early November.

“The Erie community rallied together. We received thousands of lights,” Bowen said.

The lights display is open from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $20 per vehicle with up to 10 passengers.

This year’s virtual gallery features trees decorated by Allburn Florist, Larese Floral Design, A Floral Affair, Girl Power, Graphitti Creations, Lake Life, Plantscape Greenhouses, Potratz Floral Shop and others.

Visitors wait to begin the 36th annual Festival of Trees drive-through event on Friday.

Voting for favorite trees continues through Sunday. The winner will be announced Monday.

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Viewers also can bid on select trees. The decorated trees will be delivered to the homes of winning bidders.

About 10 trees up for auction are on display for a special audience.

“They are on display for hospital workers to see,” Bowen said.

The Festival of Trees is presented by PNC Bank.

Event proceeds will support the creation of a Healthy Food Center at Saint Vincent Hospital. The center will offer both healthy foods and nutrition counseling for patients.



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