The Killeen Civic and Conference Center was overflowing with the sights and sounds of Christmas on Friday night during the 13th annual Festival of Trees, sponsored by the Armed Services YMCA.
Crowds gathered around the 12 Christmas trees that lined the room, putting tickets in a box in front of each one they wanted a chance at winning.
All the trees were themed after popular Christmas songs and filled with presents underneath.
Cindy Davis, event chair, said it’s “the event of the year,” and there was a sold-out crowd to prove it with 1,100 tickets sold.
“This event kicks off the holiday season in Killeen,” she said. “I think people like the fact that it’s just a lot of fun. There is no set program. They come out, see their friends, mingle and support a good cause.”
Funds raised through the event go to help with financial assistance for child care and other programs.
Davis said the goal for the event was to raise $70,000, and although an exact total of the amount raised won’t be known until Monday, she’s confident it was reached.
Michelle Cobb attended the event for the first year, and as she walked around the room looking at the trees, her jaw dropped in awe.
“I love this so much,” she said. “I’m excited, I love Christmas and this is just great. The trees are beautiful and it’s so festive. It really gets you into the Christmas spirit.”
Lt. Col. Tosie Andrews, 407th Army Field Support Brigade, said this is her second time being stationed at Fort Hood and she wanted to show her appreciation to the community. She was stationed at Fort Hood from 2005 to 2009 and recently returned in August.
“This is such a great event and a good way to give back to the community,” she said. “The community here and Killeen does so much, so it’s nice to show our appreciation.”
Tammy Bailey had her eye on the “All I Want For Christmas Is You” tree with Mr. and Mrs. gifts underneath.
“I liked the purple and teal peacock colors,” she said. “Those are going to be my wedding colors. So, I really gravitated toward that one.”
Becky Elmore said she regularly attends the event because “it’s so much fun.”
“It’s fun to see all the people from around town that you know and to try and win a tree,” she said. “The best part is coming out, socializing and just enjoying the holidays.”
Attendees purchase tickets for $1 and put them in a box in front of the trees they want to win.
At the end of the night, tickets are drawn to determine the winner and the main tree on display is auctioned off in a live auction.
Contact Natalie Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7555