WESTFIELD — What used to be a gray and beige lobby has been transformed into a colorful, festive forest, and for the fourth year in a row, visitors will have a chance to bring home a part of the annual Tree Jubilee.
Westfield on Weekends set up the display of 34 artificial Christmas trees, wreaths and other decorations last week in the side lobby at Roots Athletic Center. Each item is decorated for winter, Christmas or some other theme, and each will be raffled next week, in time for the new owners to display their prize at home for Christmas.
Some trees are decorated by the companies, groups and individuals who enter them, but many sponsors choose to pay the entry fee and let organizer Lisa Sunderland Burns exercise her creativity on their behalf. She said she personally decorated about half of this year’s entries.
Each one is unique, however, and Burns comes up with new designs every year.
“I’m an artist by nature,” Burns said. “Christmas is my favorite holiday, and I love to decorate.”
She said she had the idea of a room full of decorated Christmas trees several years ago, but could not find the right space for it until she partnered with Westfield on Weekends, a nonprofit organization that sponsors concerts, art classes and other cultural activities, mostly downtown.
Burns said the Tree Jubilee started four years ago, originally in Westfield on Weekends’ Creative Arts Center at the Rinnova Building on Elm Street. After outgrowing that space, the display found a new home in the side lobby at Roots Athletic Center, 181 Root Road, just outside the lower-level entrance to the indoor fields complex and the office for The Westfield News and Reminder Publishing. The lobby is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Each tree, wreath and decoration has a tag naming the sponsor and detailing any prizes, such as gift cards and coupons, that the raffle winner will receive. Each tag also has a QR code that can be scanned using a smartphone to enter the raffle online.
Funds raised by the raffle will benefit Westfield on Weekends programs, including concerts, arts events and PumpkinFest. Burns said she hopes to raise $5,000 this year.
Raffle tickets are available at westfieldonweekendstreejubilee2021.ourraffle.org, at three for $5, 12 for $10, 25 for $20 or 65 for $50. After purchasing tickets, buyers can choose to enter each ticket in any individual item’s raffle. Tickets must be purchased and entered in a raffle by the end of the day Wednesday, Dec. 8. Raffles for each item will be drawn separately, with the winner receiving the item itself as a prize, along with any associated gifts or coupons.
Some of the trees come with an extensive package of goodies. For example, the winner of the Boys & Girls Club’s “The Wheels on the Bus” tree gets an overnight hotel stay, one week’s tuition in a summer program, two adult golf shirts, a baseball cap, three children’s T-shirts, and $25 gift cards to Two Rivers Burrito Co. and 7B’s restaurant; the winner of the Kiwanis Club “Smitten with Mittens Tree” gets several hand-knit mittens and $480 in gift cards to various local businesses; and the winner of the Peoples Bank “The Land of the Free Tree” will receive $350 in gift cards to various local businesses.
Others are attracting attention for their beauty or novelty, Burns said, such as the “Twin Lanterns” decoration donated by Wagner Rug & Flooring, the “Red Berry Tree” from the Westfield firefighters’ Local 1111 and the Mexican pinata donated by Two Rivers Burrito Co. Burns also pointed out the decorations made by children on the Boys & Girls Club and Roots Aquatic and Fitness Center trees.
New entrants this year include two firefighters’ unions, the Westfield Fire Department Supervisors Association and the firefighters’ Local 1111, the Air National Guard 104th Fighter Wing, the Daley family, the Friends of the Westfield Athenaeum, Jeanne Papadimitriou of Keller Williams Realty, state Rep. Kelly Pease and family, Salon Palm, the Spa at Little River and Sypeck Law & Insurance.
Burns said a few prospective sponsors contacted her too late to make it into this year’s display. New entries are welcome, but the deadline to enter a tree or wreath is always the week before Thanksgiving, to give organizers enough time to plan the display and organize the online voting form. The display and raffle always open to the public the day after Thanksgiving.
Raffle winners will be announced Dec. 10, and are responsible for picking up their items from Roots between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11.