ELLIJAY, Ga. – An annual event, the Festival of Trees that Gilmer’s Library hosts during December showcases tress from local businesses, organizations, and entities. Each year hosts the celebration to kick off the season and has become an essential part of Gilmer’s Christmas Traditions.
A well anticipated event, the commissioners discussed the Christmas celebration briefly with representatives of the library as early as October during the budget meetings. With December finally here, the library has 23 trees standing in the building from across the county.
The Festival lasts through December and citizens can visit the Calvin Jackson Drive location just off of Highway 282 during normal operation hours of the library, but December 1, 2021, saw the open house event hosting games, ornament crafting, and other Christmas events during the night.
Children present were treated to videos from Santa Claus throughout the night as he read The Night Before Christmas and special messages.
The library hosted VR experience stations playing Beat Saber. Several games including ornament ring toss, a cakewalk, bean bag “snowball toss,” and others. An entire section of the library’s basement hosted tables full of supplies and equipment for crafting homemade ornaments.
Additionally, a special guest showed up for the night. Calder, Gilmer Public Safety’s Crisis Response Therapy Dog, spent the night saying hello and receiving some petting from kids and adults alike. Not just a part of Public Safety, Calder is a charter member of the ACES Crisis Response Therapy Dog Team. He is currently in training for search, rescue, and recovery with Emergency K-9 Operation, Inc. Search and Rescue. Even he wasn’t a super dog for being able to search for and then both physically rescue and emotionally calm people, he is extending his reach even further participating in educational and reading programs.
All this combines to make Calder specially capable of working with anyone facing emotional, mental, or physical challenges.
Some of the reading programs, as his handler explained, involve him simply sitting and listening to children read to him, others are more advanced, and his emotional training helps him with people in dangerous situations or just having trouble with reading aloud.
Calder traveled both upstairs and downstairs during the open house to visit all sections of the celebrations as the Festival of Trees is solely on the main floor. Each tree hosts its own theme and group. From the toolbox ornaments adorning the Lowe’s tree to the songbirds all resting on the branches of the Garden Club of Ellijay’s tree to the messages and photos in ornaments of the CLC’s (Christian Learning Center) tree, each and every tree has little things to notice and find and enjoy.
The Gilmer Animal Shelter tree, an entire “Nightmare Before Christmas” theme sees Jack Skellington’s own dog Zero atop the tree, but look closer and follow a certain orange and black ornamental wrap and you’ll notice a familiar snake from the movie munching on presents.
Animal Shelter Director Daniel Laukka, who attended the event to support the efforts of library he said, told FYN that his tree specifically had another hidden detail that many couldn’t know or notice. Laukka said every single ornament on the tree either came from the private collection of one of the shelter’s workers or was hand crafted by shelter employees.
The 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, the Gilmer Animal Shelter, the Gilmer Library’s Lego Lab, Gilmer Christian Learning Center, the 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 to see all of the trees in FYN’s Gilmer Festival of Trees photos on Facebook.