PARKERSBURG - The community filled the banquet room at the Blennerhassett Hotel on Tuesday for the 26th annual Easter Seals Society Festival of Trees live auction.
"This is such a great event and the community has really come out to support the programs," said Jess Puglisi-Sanders, with Easter Seals West Virginia.
There were 34 items on display, which included 25 trees with the other nine items being mostly wreaths and a few garlands. The trees and other items had themes including cookie cutters, snowflakes and girls' night out. For the event several individuals, organizations and businesses contributed either monetary support or by creating and decorating the trees.
Photo by Jolene Craig
Stephan Hanna holds his son Andrew, 7, who receives aid from Easter Seals as they pose in front of the Kid’s Choice winner, “Meow Meow, Got Cat?” during the annual Easter Seals Society Festival of Trees auction at the Blennerhassett Hotel on Tuesday.
"They are all beautiful and creative and I hope people bid," Puglisi-Sanders said.
Judges reviewed the displays last week and picked the best in a variety of categories, from Best of Show to Traditional Holiday and more. The trees will remain on display at the Blennerhassett until Friday, when they will be delivered to the new owners who bought them at Tuesday night's auction.
Proceeds from the event fund local Easter Seals programs, including an equipment/purchase modification and home modification program which provides communications devices, wheelchair equipment, and stair lifts for people with disabilities.
The Easter Seals West Virginia therapy team has been providing in-home early intervention therapy services for kids for over 10 years.
Many families who receive aid from the programs attended the event, said Puglisi-Sanders.
"There are lots of families here with kids, which gives people a new perspective to see our work in action," she added.
One of those children is Andrew Hanna, 7, of Parkersburg, who was there with his parents Stephen and Leslie Hanna. Andrew has achondroplasia dwarfism and receives home therapy from Easter Seals.
"This is such a good fundraiser and it is particularly nice to see the families here," said Stephen Hanna. "As a physician, to have a child in need of this help, this is a nice chance to see the Easter Seals' work in action."
Andrew was also the child who chose the Kid's Choice winning tree, which was "Meow Meow, Got Cat?" decorated by Kiki Angelos.
"I chose it because it has a live fish," he said with a grin.
In 2010, the auction brought in more than $50,000, with one tree being auctioned for $21,050.
This is the first year Easter Seals West Virginia has helmed the event, Puglisi-Sanders said.
"For the first time, the money from this auction will stay in the Washington and Wood counties area and we are happy to do this," she said.
The category winners were:
* Best of Show: "The Sparkling Christmas," decorated by Vanessa Watson.
* Traditional Holiday: first place, "A Splash of Lime," decorated by Kay Terrell, Sherry West, Kim Ginther, Michelle Lyons, Connie Mahone and Jill Bartley; second place, "Traditional Christmas Spectacular," decorated by Kiki Angelos.
* Uniquely Original: first place, "A Confetti Christmas," decorated by Abby Burge and Parkersburg South art students; second place, "Whimsical Spirits Christmas tree," decorated by Jane Englke.
* Outdoor, Sports and Leisure: first place, "Meow Meow, Got Cat?," decorated by Kiki Angelos; second place, "American Olympic Games Proud to be an American," decorated by Kiki Angelos.
* Wreath mantel arrangement: first place, "Christmas Magic," decorated by Kay Terrell; second place, "Shades of Gold," decorated by Michele Hupp.