How does drinking mimosas for brunch, eating catered food and bidding on prizes to help nonprofits spruce up downtown Missoula and send terminally ill children on their dream trip sound?
That’s just a couple of the appealing aspects of the 19th annual Missoula Festival of Trees that’s running until Saturday night on the sixth floor of the First Interstate Bank building at 101 E. Front Street.
Produced and hosted by the Missoula Downtown Association (MDA), the event includes a display of more than 50 painstakingly decorated trees, wreaths and holiday items that are available for tours for $2 (with children under 12 free).
For example, one tree contains 1,000 hand-folded paper cranes made by the Lewis and Clark Elementary service club with messages of peace.
On Saturday, Dec. 8, there will be a Merry Mimosa Brunch and the Holiday Soiree & Auction. Organizers hope to raise roughly $20,000 from bids on the trees and donated prize packages. Also, 20 percent of the proceeds will go to Make-A-Wish Montana, a nonprofit that helps kids with life-threatening sicknesses do something they’ve always wanted to do.
“More than 50 local artists have designed unique, one-of-a-kind trees, wreaths and other cool items for this special community festival that will support the Make-A-Wish Montana,” said Paige Livingston, co-chair of the event and owner of One Eleven Boutique. “These designers are top-notch and we are so grateful for these incredibly talented folks who make the most amazing holiday décor for homes and offices all across Missoula. This is truly a special community event.”
April Sommers, the events director for the Downtown Missoula Partnership, said her organization took over the event last year from Mountain Home Montana, another nonprofit in town that helps women and children. The rest of the money helps the nonprofit MDA maintain Caras Park, install Christmas lighting downtown and complete other projects.
“We just hope it grows and grows,” she said. “It’s a great community event. And the trees are all so unique.”
A tour of the trees is available every day this week and on Saturday, and Sommers said she encourages people to take a stroll through the beautiful décor overlooking the city of Missoula.
“It’s really striking up here at night with all the lights,” she said.
The tour includes a scavenger hunt. Tours are available on Thursday from noon until 7 p.m., on First Friday from noon until 8 p.m. and on Saturday from noon until 6 p.m.
“Kids remember, for their entire lives, what they did with their family during Christmas,” Sommers said. “We want downtown Missoula to be that place where happy lifetime memories are made.”
Sommers said they’ve already sold out all for Teddy Bear Teas, a children’s event that’s part of the festivities.
Adults are encouraged to celebrate the holidays at the Merry Mimosa Brunch and the Holiday Soiree & Auction on Saturday, Dec. 8. The Mimosa Brunch at 10:30 am will feature cocktails and special foods provided by Bernice’s Bakery on the top floor of the bank building.
The highlight of the festival, according to Sommers, will be the Holiday Soiree & Auction at 7 pm. The Montana A Cappella Society will entertain guests with holiday music with hors d’oeuvres by Burns St. Bistro and a no-host bar provided by VFW Post 209. All the trees will be auctioned that evening and delivered by Two Men and a Truck on Monday, Dec. 10.
For more information or reservations visit Missouladowntown.com/festival-of-trees or call 543-4238.