Festive forest to spread community cheer

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A forest of Christmas trees will spring up in the Ashburton Trust Event Centre at the start of December.

The artificial trees are part of a sparkly plan by the Ashburton County Lions Club to start the festive season with some community cheer and members are hoping people will join them.

The club is encouraging schools, groups, businesses and individuals to pay $10 for a space to erect their own tree at the event centre and decorate it; the trees will be judged and prizes awarded.

The festive forest will then be open to the public to enjoy.

Club spokesperson Marie McAnulty said each tree had a space about 1.5m square and only artificial trees were allowed. Decorations could follow any theme within the Christmas vibe.

The trees will be set up on the stage at the event centre. “We also hope to have some stalls with Christmas goods for sale in the foyer.” Entry to see the trees after judging will cost $2.

There will be raffles and food and drink for sale too.

The trees will be at the event centre on December 3, 4 and 5. Set-up will be on the morning of December 3, with judging between 12pm and 1pm; public viewing will follow. There are plans for a laser light show on the evening of December 4.

Marie said the project was not a fundraising event though any profit would go to the club’s charities in the community. The Ashburton men’s Lions Club is also helping.

She said the club was getting the word out about the event early so people had plenty of time to enter and organise decorations. Retailers for the stall space were also being sought.

Marie said the club just wanted to generate some feelings of wellbeing as the district recovered from lockdown and ongoing covid pressures.

She hoped schools and rest-home residents would be among those to visit the display.