An inaugural event next month will aim to both spread the warmth of the holidays and bring together community members in a spirit of awareness.
The Fulton County Festival of Trees, a fundraising event to be held Nov. 20-23 at the St. Caspar Catholic Church Parish Life Center in Wauseon, will support services for the county’s developmentally disabled. But that’s not its most important purpose, said Kathy Shaw, director of Triangular Processing in Wauseon.
The four-day celebration at 1205 N. Shoop Ave. in Wauseon is anticipated to bring together hundreds of community members, some whose differences can be misunderstood.
“We want people to get to know each other and not let abilities or disabilities to become a barrier,” Shaw said. “There are never too many opportunities to try to open doors and build relationships.”
The event opener will be a tree lighting ceremony Wednesday, Nov. 20, from 5-6:30 p.m. Sponsored by Farmers and Merchants State Bank, the ceremony will feature an auction of colorfully-lit trees decorated with such themes as farming, snowmen, and birdhouses, each which businesses and individuals can sponsor for between $400-$750.
The ceremony will include musical entertainment and browsing in a Santa shop.
“There’s a little bit of everything for everybody,” Shaw said. “It’s a kind of winter wonderland where they can come to experience the ambience of the holidays.”
On Thursday, Nov. 21, an after-hours social sponsored by First Federal Bank will be held from 5-7 p.m. for business leaders, government officials, and interested community members. Shaw said it’s an opportunity for county residents to become acquainted and network. The adult event will include light music and refreshments.
A Sugar Plum Ball sponsored by North Star Bluescope Steel will be held Friday, Nov. 22, beginning at 5:30 p.m. The semi-formal dinner and dance will include music by Toledo cover band Venyx and a tree auction. Tickets are $65 per person, $250 for a table of four, and $500 for a table of eight. Contact Shaw at 419-337-9640 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Children from toddlers to age 12 will be treated to Breakfast With Santa on Saturday, Nov. 23, from 9-11 a.m. It will include a photo with Santa, crafts, and games. Sponsored by Andres O’Neil and Lowe and Schultz, Huber and Associates, the cost will be $10 per child, with online tickets available through Nov. 7 at www.fcfot.com or by calling 419-553-0429.
Proceeds from all of the events will provide services for the county’s developmentally disabled. Services include workshops, the Triangular Processing recycling program, a day program, transportation, community employment, and the Special Olympics.
Triangular Processing is a non-profit entity formerly funded by the government through the Fulton County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Shaw said it now relies on fundraising to cover financial shortfalls.
“There are government regulations we have to follow, and not enough funding,” she said. “We are very fortunate to have a group of community members who want to support what we do. Right out of the gate they’ve been willing to invest in this. I think it speaks highly of the businesses in Fulton County, that they were willing to step up and support this.”
Eighteen months in the making, the Festival of Trees was originally suggested by Matt Gilroy, Triangular Processing board president. While an important objective is to raise needed funds, the main goal is to offer a holiday event enjoyable for members of the community that include the developmentally disabled, Shaw said.
Festival of Trees holiday events have been held locally in Napoleon and Defiance, as well as in Lima and other Ohio cities.
Event chair Jennie Gilroy said the celebration is, in part, a way to recognize the disabled as members of the community.
“They want to be part of the community, and they should be part of the community,” she said. “That’s the main goal: to bring awareness and to bring the community together for a great cause.”
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.