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Butler Lodge filled with Christmas spirit

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By Kristin Beck

A chorus of little voices rang out, yelling “Santa! Santa!” as the Jolly Old Elf appeared at the Butler Lodge at General Butler State Resort Park on Thursday, Dec. 3. Two four-year-old Head Start classes — Ms. Brierly’s and Ms. Roth’s — visited to see the Christmas trees as a part of the Festival of Trees and to tell the jolly old elf what they wanted for Christmas.

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The Festival of Trees is an annual event held at the park where schools, churches, organizations and businesses can decorate trees to put on display at the lodge.

“It’s not only for the community, but for the park guests,” recreations director Tanya Supplee said.

About 12 trees will be on display this year; the most was 24, she said. Decorating begins on the Monday after Thanksgiving, and the first Saturday in December is reserved as the opening day to view the trees, Supplee said. Participants must provide their own tree, lights and decorations, while the lodge provides the electricity, extension cords and signage.

While some of the same groups decorate trees every year, new participants are also welcome. This year, there are two new trees on display: Annie Valentine, who works at the Two Rivers Restaurant, created a tree in honor of breast cancer survivors, and Future Business Leaders of America teacher David Pepper and students at Carroll County High School also decorated a tree.

Head Start Coordinator Pam McNeal said the program participates in the festival every year. The children each create homemade ornaments to hang on their school’s tree. The ornaments are made of a variety of materials, including popsicle sticks, construction paper and recycled materials, and the children love to use lots of glitter, McNeal said.

“They all look forward to it. They all come up with something different to do,” she said.

The trees will be on display throughout the month of December. However, Supplee said the lodge will be closed from after lunch on Dec. 23 and re-open for lunch on Dec. 30.  

All of the children at Head Start have the opportunity to come look at the trees and visit with Santa. However, the cookies and punch from the North Pole are also a big highlight of the visit. Both Mason Laurence, 4, and Asia Coy, 4, said the cookies were their favorite part of the day.