LYNN — For many in the city, the annual Festival of Trees held by the Lynn Vocational and Technical Alumni Association marks the beginning of the holiday season.
Last week, a festival was held in the school’s annex.
“A lot of people say this is the beginning of the holiday season,” said Kelly Papagiorgio, vice president of the association. “Being part of someone’s family tradition is truly emotional and makes us all so proud.”
The main floor of the building is decorated with approximately 100 Christmas trees, wreaths, and gift baskets.
Papagiorgio said the trees were donated by businesses, organizations and families.
“We couldn’t do this without the community, because the community comes together,” she said. “Local businesses, some businesses outside of the city, other schools, the mayor’s office, the Lynn Teachers Union, and Lynn Housing all participate. We have new donors each year, but those who have continued to participate for the past nine years There are some too.”
Visitors not only admire the decorations, but also have the opportunity to take the tree home.
Visitors purchase raffle tickets and drop them into a slot next to their favorite tree or other decoration. Winning tickets for each item will be drawn on Saturday night and winners will receive their prizes on Sunday.
All funds raised through the raffle and admission fee will go towards providing scholarships to students at the school.
“All the money goes back to the students, which was very important to us,” Papagiorgio said. “This has allowed us to create at least four new scholarships.”
She said the event raises more than $25,000 each year.
This funding allowed the association to increase the amount of scholarships and provide equipment to some students in non-traditional shop programs who did not have access to equipment upon graduation.
For example, culinary graduates receive a 40-piece knife set, and web programming students receive a laptop.
“The teachers at the store choose who gets the scholarship,” Papagiorgio said.
Papagiorgio said the festival started nine years ago when some members of the association came up with the idea as a fundraiser.
“Some people were a little hesitant, but a few of us said, ‘Let’s do this, let’s do this,'” she said. “The community really came together and donated trees and items for the raffle. It’s been great every year.”
She said she has seen the event help bring the community together.
“One of the things we never expected to happen is that the Lynn community is meeting people they grew up with and now they’re introducing their children and grandchildren to the people they grew up with. That’s true,” Papagiorgio said. “It was so heartwarming to see everyone come together.”
Saturday is the last day of the festival. You can visit the Lynn Tech Annex Building, 90 Commercial St., from noon to 6 p.m.