The Christmas tree is the centerpiece of the holiday season. From the fir, to the pine and the spruce, people use evergreens to decorate their homes and place gifts wrapped with perfect bows underneath. For the Blennerhassett Hotel, pines and needles take on a symbol of charity and community during the 30th Annual Easter Seals Festival of Trees.

Located at 320 Market Street, the elegant home-away-from-home has more than 30 trees and wreaths lighting guests’ ways through its halls. Area businesses and individuals decorate the trees, which are displayed and then put up for auction to raise funds for Easter Seals West Virginia Uncompensated Care Program. This program allows uninsured or underinsured children with disabilities or special needs receive care and treatment.


The Blennerhassett Hotel Marketing Manager Nicole Slattery says all of the decorators and sponsors that are involved are all a part of the community in one way or another, and their items on display are works of creativity.

“It truly is an event that encompasses the community as a whole and all for a great cause,” Slattery said.

Valerie Young, of Valerie Young Realtors, is one of the many contributors to this event. When she entered the Festival of Trees, she immediately knew she wanted to create something in honor of her father who passed away this summer at the age of 82.

“My father had a heart of gold, and my wreath, ‘Golden Splendor,’ represents that love and the wonderful floral skills he taught me and many others that he trained over the years,” Young said.


Roy Ratcliffe began his career at 15 when he rode his bicycle to a greenhouse where he planted Christmas Poinsettias. Later, Roy became a master floral designer and operated his own florist shop. Young spent many hours watching and learning the trade as well.

 “He was so blessed with such a wonder creative talent and he touched many people through flowers,” Young said adoringly.

As Young stated before, her father had a heart of gold. She remembers one Christmas season as a young girl when Roy discovered that a family in their town had no tree due to financial constraints.

“He took a decorated tree from the display window at the florist, put it in a pickup truck and had it delivered to their home! I will never forget that. He taught me how important it is to give and share joy with others,” Young said.


Joining “Golden Splendor” in the auction set for Dec. 1, are trees like the one from Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices Real Estate Center whose snow dusted branches hold classic characters like, The Grinch, Kermit the Frog and everyone’s favorite reindeer. Also, there is a special surprise for wizards and children at heart.


Yes, there is a Hogwarts letter waiting at the Harry Potter themed-tree sponsored by Parkersburg Radiology. The enchanting tree is made complete with the Sorting Hat, ornaments representing each house (Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin) and polyjuice potion from Professor Snape. Hedwig even flew down to take part in the festivities.


For the children at heart, or those who “just keep swimming”, the Parkersburg Catholic High School Interact Club celebrates Disney Pixar’s “Finding Dory” with a sea blue fir.


 No admission is charged for viewing the trees. However, guests can make a donation by voting in the people’s choice award. Banks are placed in front of every tree, and the tree receiving the most donations will win the award.

To bid on the trees, guests must be present at the auction on Dec. 1 at 6 p.m. Tickets are $30 per person and are available at the door or may be purchased in advance. They can be purchased at Blennerhassett Hotel or by calling Easter Seals at 304.422.3343.


So, put on that winter coat and let the Christmas spirit ring, and do not long forget to rock around the Christmas tree.