The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 29, 2012

It's time to turn on tree lights

United Way column

By Richard Jarrell
guest columnist

BECKLEY — I just have to tell you the next two weeks are two of my most favorite weeks of the year. Yes, this Friday will be the opening day of the fourth annual Wonderland of Trees! Our good friends at Lewis Automotive will be our host this year in their beautiful Suzuki showroom.

The doors will open on Friday at 10 a.m. for everyone in our community to come out and see 50 of the most creative, beautiful trees that you could ever expect to see. While every team will start with the same 7 1/2-foot pre-lit tree, at the end of the day you will see something quite different. You can expect to see everything from a tree with every ornament individually hand-made by pre-schoolers to the most elaborate custom-designed tree that you would expect to see displayed in a Southern Living publication.

The showroom will be open for visitors Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. Along with viewing the trees, visitors are also encouraged to vote for the trees they like the most. A $1 donation is all it takes to vote for the tree that will eventually be awarded the People’s Choice winner. Plus, every vote will register you to win a new 40-inch LCD television donated by our friends at John Eye Big Sandy.

Something that was new to the event last year was beautiful hand-crafted ornaments. Each ornament represents the People’s Choice winners from the previous years. This year’s ornament will have a plane etched into the glass ornament, representing the 2011 winning tree that had a huge model plane displayed on it from T&K Karts and Hobbies. These ornaments are hand-crafted by local artisan Doug Coleman, and are worthy to be collected. Doug will also be making the ornaments on location at Lewis during the two weeks the trees are on display.

Along with the trees, there will also be beautifully decorated wreaths to view. And when you find a wreath you like, you are encouraged to make a bid on your favorite, as all wreaths are up for silent auction and will be awarded at the final night on Nov. 16. If you would be interested in decorating a wreath, call the United Way office at 304-253-2111 today. Cost of sponsoring a wreath is only $50.

 A new treat for this year will be a visit from Santa on Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 2 to 4 p.m.

The most exciting part of the Wonderland of Trees happens on Friday, Nov. 16, at 5:30 p.m. when each and every tree will be auctioned off by our auctioneer Scott Hill. This is a night you want to be sure to put on your calendar, because this is a show you don’t want to miss. Even if you don’t need a tree in your home or business, we have a list of families and organizations that the trees can be donated to as well.

In any event, Vice Campaign Chairman Frank Wood and I are encouraging everyone to get an early start on the spirit and magic of the Christmas season by getting involved in this year’s Wonderland of Trees at the Suzuki showroom of Lewis Automotive. By doing so, we can indeed LIVE AND GIVE UNITED!

— United Way of Southern West Virginia 2012-2013 Campaign chair Richard Jarrell owns the two Chick-fil-A franchises in Beckley and is a member of the Raleigh County Board of Education.