Holiday season takes root with ‘Festival of Trees’

Festival of Trees

Long Islander’s kicked off the holiday season in earnest at the 22nd annual Long Island Festival of Trees at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City.

The United Cerebral Palsy Association of Nassau County (UCPN) sponsored the event which was held the weekend of Nov. 25. The festival was a fundraiser for children with cerebral palsy.

The 22nd annual Long Island Festival of Trees was held at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City Nov. 25-27 (LIR photo by Kathryne Teurfs)

The 22nd annual Long Island Festival of Trees was held at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City Nov. 25-27 (LIR photo by Kathryne Teurfs)

UCPN’s marketing director and event-coordinator, Charles Evdos, said in addition to the Festival of Trees committee and the Cradle of Aviation volunteers, there were 300 volunteers who made the event possible. Their goal was to raise $150,000.

“Ninety cents of every dollar we raise goes back to the program,” Evdos said. “Not many nonprofits can make that claim.”

Leggz LTD, a dance studio in Rockville Centre, coordinated the entertainment for the event. Leggz has participated in the festival for over 15 years.

“Our goal is to make this a holiday tradition for families to enjoy at reasonable cost with lots of children’s activities and to raise funds to help the children with cerebral palsy,” said Joan MacNaughton, director of Leggz. “We’re able to have many dance groups—choirs from high schools, grade schools, and special celebrity guests each day—to provide quality entertainment.”

Radio Disney, Long Island YouTube talent Jenna Rose and American Idol singers Robbie Rosen of Merrick and  and Kevin Covais of Levittown were the featured acts that performed throughout the weekend. Leggz and other dance schools from different Long Island schools also performed shows, along with the Hempstead and Holy Trinity Select Choirs.

In between watching the performances, families enjoyed posing with Santa and other children’s show cartoon characters. Some designed trees or admired the gingerbread houses and themed displays, while others participated in the crafts vendors offered—ranging from face painting, sand-art, and bear-stuffing to sampling free cheese.

Sheryl Rubenbauer and Alan Gordon, independent vendors from Huntington, ran the sand-art stand. They explained that many of their peers worked for UCPN and traveled from all over the Island.

“We come here to support the organization,” Gordon said.  “We love the people, we love the location.”

Cerebral palsy is a disability that can seriously impair movement, balance, motor skills and speech. According to the UCPN website, the disorder is caused by damage that occurs during brain development. Though sufferers can improve their function through physical therapy treatment, cerebral palsy is incurable and affects an estimated 764,000 Americans.

The UCPN holds other fundraisers throughout the year, including their Sugar Plum Ball Concert, Forget Me Not Ball, Polar Bear Plunge, Dignitary Awards Luncheon and the Taste and Toast the Town.