Hilton Head Prep Festival of Trees 'bigger and better' after hiatus

abredeson@islandpacket.comDecember 2, 2013 

Parker Harrington has fond memories of the Festival of Trees Hilton Head Preparatory School held when she was a child.

Her mother, Dorsey Smith, was the event chair for several years, and Harrington would help her set up the decorated trees.

Now Harrington's 5-year-old daughter, Sidney, is helping her run the show.

After a six-year hiatus, the festival, which features decorated Christmas trees for sale with proceeds going toward school scholarships, returned to the Lowcountry last year.

Organizers are trying to make it bigger and better this time around.

"It was always a very, very big deal," Harrington said. "People used to plan their vacations and family reunions around when the festival was going to be set up."

The festival began in 1985. When her two children began attending the school two years ago, Harrington wondered what happened to the Festival of Trees.

"And when you say that too loudly, people say, 'Well, you just be in charge of it,' " she said with a chuckle.

So Harrington set out to bring back the festival she loved so much as a child.

This year's festival features more than 70 trees.

The trees have been decorated by students, parents, alumni, and local businesses and organizations. They are for sale; profits go toward Hilton Head Prep scholarships. Prices vary, depending on cost and decorations.

The festival began Nov. 23 and will run through Thursday at the Sonesta Resort in Shipyard Plantation.

"My goal for this year's festival was to bring back an island tradition that was loved by so many, going back 25 years," Harrington said.

"The funds raised towards scholarships to Hilton Head Prep are important, but providing a holiday event that brings together the entire community is priceless. Next year we hope to have even more businesses and locals involved, and we plan to bring back other popular aspects of Festival of Trees, including the Gingerbread Village."

Follow Amy Coyne Bredeson at twitter.com/IPBG_Amy.

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