Because the First Thursday was the day before the traditional opening of the Atheneum’s annual Festival of Trees & Traditions, those attending got a sneak peek at the 200 trees, wreaths and table decorations donated by a host of garden clubs, artists, designers, retailers and supporters.
“We couldn’t hide the trees for First Thursday so we just made it part of the festival,” explained festival co-chair Sue Blair. The crowd also served as “early shoppers” who were allowed to put in bids on the display items that are sold as part of the event.
“Our official opening is Friday night but we just figured we could make it part of First Thursday and those who wanted to get a jump start on enjoying the display or buying the trees and wreaths could do it a day earlier,” Blair said.
And oh were there shoppers present. Among them, Dr. Claudia Carbonari who purchased four wreaths within 15 minutes of the party opening.
“I have a big house with a lot of windows,” she said. “I will also give some as gifts.”
Proceeds from the sale of the festival decorations, which are not removed until the end of the annual display, underwrite Atheneum programs. The festival, which includes a ruby and gold decorated tree to mark its 40th anniversary, is extended into more galleries this year so visitors can also enjoy more museum art.
“We surprised the kids when they got home from school and told them we were going to the tree festival and out to supper,” explained Robin Celli of Glastonbury. “The kids were thrilled and we are hoping to squeeze in a little ice skating if we can” she said. “I am one of those adults who remembers coming to the tree festival as a kid. There is something that is so much fun and feels so good when one of your childhood memories can be passed on to your own kids.”
The display continues through Dec. 15.