Blennerhassett Hotel to host Festival of Trees auction tonight

PARKERSBURG – Visitors to the Blennerhassett Hotel, at the intersection of Fourth and Market streets, will be treated to a double holiday event today.

The annual Easter Seals Festival of Trees fundraiser auction will take place today at the Blennerhassett Hotel, accompanied by the first full day of public viewing for the Gingerbread House contest, said Dorinda Conner, Director of Hotel Operations at the Blennerhassett.

The Festival of Trees auction is in its 27th year at the hotel. More than 40 Christmas trees, wreaths and mantel pieces have been on display in the hotel’s public areas since Nov. 19, with the auction beginning at 6 p.m. today.

The traditional silent auction, where locals can bid on different holiday decorations, will start off the event. Visitors are welcome to make bids on the items throughout the silent auction. At 7 p.m., the silent auction ends and the live auction part of the Festival of Trees will begin. Each of the 41 items on display will be auctioned off.

Light hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar will be available to those in attendance. Tickets to attend the auction are available today at the Starbucks counter inside the Blennerhassett Hotel, or at the door. Tickets to attend are $30.

Meanwhile, the public is invited to see the display of gingerbread houses in the common areas of the hotel.

The Gingerbread House competition is at the Blennerhassett for the first time this year, said Conner. Future years will see the edible displays at the Blennerhassett as well, said Conner.

An anticipated 57 total gingerbread houses will be on display until Jan. 1. On Monday evening, participants put the finishing touches on their entries, mixed in among the Festival of Trees displays.

For this week only, the two displays will overlap in the common areas of the Blennerhassett Hotel. The public is invited to view the gingerbread houses from 7 a.m. through 11 p.m., Conner said.

Judging of the Gingerbread House competition will take place from today through Friday.

Amazing displays of gingerbread art and elegantly decorated Christmas trees will mingle side by side until Friday afternoon, Conner said.

On Friday, those who win the individual tree, wreath and mantel piece auctions will remove their items from the hotel, leaving only the gingerbread houses behind.

The annual Festival of Trees auction benefits the Easter Seals West Virginia. The proceeds from the fundraising auction will be used for several Easter Seals programs, including the equipment and purchase modification and home modification program. This program provides wheelchair equipment, stair lifts, and communication devices for people with disabilities.

Other programs that benefit from the auction include the Easter Seals West Virginia therapy team, which provides in-home early intervention therapy services for local children.

The trees, all donated by local residents and companies, raise a lot of money for the Easter Seals every year. In 2010, one tree fetched an astounding $21,050 price tag.