Akron Children’s Hospital Annual Tree Festival is a must for UA students

The festival will bring holiday cheer and festivities to downtown Akron from Nov. 11-19 in its yearly fundraising event.
Comic book themed holiday tree from the Akron Childrens Tree Festival.
Comic book themed holiday tree from the Akron Children’s Tree Festival.
Julie Cajigas

The 42nd Annual Holiday Tree Festival, hosted by volunteers of the Akron Children’s Hospital, is soon upon us. If you are an Akron native, you know this already and have your calendars marked.  

Star Wars-themed holiday tree from the 41st Annual Tree Festival. (Julie Cajigas)

But if you are unfamiliar with the festival, this event is a must-attend to get in that festive mood. The event takes place Saturday, Nov. 11 through Sunday, Nov. 19. It is held at the John S. Knight Center, 77 East Mill Street in downtown Akron. And it is free. 

This event was formed in 1982 and has raised more than $7 million to benefit research, educational and patient care programs at Akron Children’s Hospital. 

My family has attended the tree festival several times. We have not made it every year, but what helped us to attend was the fact that numerous local schools, dance studios, and music groups perform during the event at scheduled times. My own children were required to be there for their high school Choir, Band and Orchestra classes. The live music is a fun addition that helps put you into the festive spirit as you sip hot coffee or cocoa from the concession stand. 

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The tree festival takes place in a huge room, where dozens of trees are displayed. But not just any trees. These trees are themed and decked out to the nines to be auctioned and sold at a high price to raise money for Akron Children’s Hospital

If you have a hobby or an interest, there will be a tree somewhere in the festival that connects with you. I have seen tree themes including Disney, Marvel, Ballerinas, Pets, Dr. Seuss, Angels, Construction, Peanuts, Trolls, Fairies, Eras in Time, and many more.  

All trees and even wreaths are donated. Who donates them you ask?  

Many big corporations get on board and donate, but also your local groups which include women’s clubs,

Western Reserve Suzuki Violin School performing at the 38th Annual Tree Festival in 2019. (Julie Cajigas)

Scouts, school clubs, charity groups, and even individual families.  

As you walk through the festival, you will be able to read who the group is that donated your favorite tree on a big card under the tree. Every year I have been touched by the obvious effort, work, and love that goes into creating and donating a tree. 

There are trees that are donated in honor of someone, and sometimes the story of that special someone is documented next to the tree. It is a happy time attending this event, but your heart may get a tug as the realization settles that money is needed for a hospital which correlates with life and death scenarios for many families. In that way, I always walk away from this event inspired. 

It is also exciting to see what each tree sells for in the end. 

Really, the Holiday Tree Festival has something for everyone. 

Christmas-themed holiday tree at the 41st Annual Tree Festival. (Shananne Lewis)

If you have an interest in strategic fundraising methods, you will find this event intriguing. And if you have a decorating flair in your personality, you will leave oozing with inspiration for your own creativity in your dorm or home. Those going into the medical field, or those with personal experience with illness will feel connected to the event as well. 

For those who love to shop, there is an area for items for sale, mainly holiday decorations. So, bringing extra money for that and concessions is advised, though not necessary. This is a great “date” activity also. 

As this event is free and open to the public, the festival is the perfect activity for UA students. Not only that, but it’s an easy walk from campus. There are parking decks downtown to conveniently park and many places will be charging, but you can avoid the hassle and walk to the J.S. Knight Center.  

The festival will feature over 150 trees this year, and I hope Akron citizens and UA students can make it to the event. I know I am looking forward to it this year. 

Holiday Tree Festival Hours, located at the John S. Knight Center (77 East Mill Street) are: 

  • Saturday, Nov. 11: 10 a.m.- 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, Nov. 12: 11 a.m.- 6 p.m.
  • Monday Nov. 13 through Friday Nov. 17: 11 a.m.- 8 p.m.
  • Saturday Nov. 18: 10 a.m.- 8 p.m.
  • Sunday Nov. 19: 11a.m.- 6 p.m.

For more information on Akron Children’s Hospital’s Annual Holiday Tree Festival, please visit: https://www.akronchildrens.org/pages/Holiday-Tree-Festival.html#tab_sctabtwo 

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Shananne Lewis
Shananne Lewis, Online Editor
Shananne Lewis started working as an Educational Specialist with the Education Talent Search at Buckingham in June of 2023. For twenty-five years she has taught dance in the Akron and Canton areas because she received her degree in Dance from The University of Akron. She has two children at The University of Akron. In her spare time, she loves to read about Dance History and is the administrator for Avid Dancer Book Club on Facebook, with a million members. Fun fact: Shananne Lewis lived in both Sisler-McFawn Hall and Spanton her Freshman and Sophomore years here at Akron. For ten years she had a birthday party business, frequently dressing up as a princess or pirate and invading their homes to teach a fun dance routine.
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