ELLIJAY, Georgia – An annual event, the Festival of Trees, held at Gilmer’s Library in December, showcases trees from local businesses, organizations and agencies. The celebration takes place every year to mark the start of the season and has become an integral part of Gilmer’s Christmas traditions.
As a highly anticipated event, the commissioners briefly discussed the Christmas party with library representatives during the budget meetings in October. December is finally here, the library has 23 trees from all over the county in the building.
The festival lasts through December and citizens can visit the Calvin Jackson Drive location just off Highway 282 during the library’s normal nighttime hours.
The children present were spoiled with videos of Santa Claus all night while he read The Night Before Christmas and Special Messages.
The library housed VR experience stations on which Beat Saber was played. Multiple games including ornament ring throwing, a cakewalk, beanbag “snowball throwing”, and others. A whole section of the library’s basement housed tables full of supplies and equipment for making homemade ornaments.
In addition, a special guest appeared for the night. Calder, Gilmer Public Safety’s crisis response therapy dog, spent the night saying hello and being petted by children and adults alike. In addition to being a part of public safety, Calder is a founding member of the ACES Crisis Response Therapy Dog Team. He is currently in search, rescue and rescue training with Emergency K-9 Operation, Inc. Search and Rescue. While he wasn’t a super dog for finding people and then saving them both physically and emotionally, he extends his reach even further by participating in educational and reading programs.
All of this makes Calder particularly capable of working with anyone who is faced with emotional, mental, or physical challenges.
In some reading programs, his supervisor explained, he just sits and listens to the children reading to him, others are more advanced, and his emotional training helps him with people in dangerous situations or when they have problems reading aloud.
Calder traveled both up and down during the open house to visit all sections of the celebrations, as the Festival of Trees takes place exclusively on the ground floor. Each tree has its own theme and group. From the toolbox ornaments that adorn the tree of Lowe, to the songbirds that all rest on the branches of the Garden Club of Ellijay-Baum, to the messages and photos in the ornaments of the tree of the CLC (Christian Learning Center) every single tree has to observe and find and enjoy little things.
The Gilmer Animal Shelter tree, a full âNightmare Before Christmasâ theme, features Jack Skellington’s own dog Zero on the tree, but if you look closer and follow a particular orange and black ornamental cover, you’ll notice a familiar snake from the movie nibbling on gifts.
Shelter director Daniel Laukka, who attended the event to support the library’s efforts, told the FYN that his tree specifically featured one more hidden detail that many might not know or notice. Laukka said every single ornament on the tree was either from the private collection of one of the shelter’s employees or was handcrafted by the shelter’s employees.
Trees included the Apple County Quilt Guild, Girl Scouts of Gilmer County, Samaritan’s Purse, Lowe’s, Gilmer County Master Gardeners, Garden Club of Ellijay, the Gilmer Chamber, Gilmer County Genealogical Society, Friends of the Gilmer Animal Shelter, the Tabor House , Gilmer Animal Shelter, Lego Lab of the Gilmer Library, Gilmer Christian Learning Center, UGA Extension Office, Coosawattee Shrine Club, Harry Norman Realty, Kids Ferst Readers of Gilmer County, Boys and Girls Club, OAKS Senior Living, Safe Choice Pregnancy Care Center, Faith Hope and Charity, Friends of the Gilmer Library, and Walnut Mountain Garden Club.
Make sure you see all of the trees in FYN’s Gilmer Festival of Trees photos on Facebook.