By DEBORAH GERTZ HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
A revamped Symphony of Trees will offer key ingredients to get ready for the Christmas -- and Thanksgiving -- holidays.
The 11th festival will take place Friday, Nov. 9, and Saturday, Nov. 10, or about a month earlier than in the past, at the Holiday Inn, 4821 Oak.
"We decided by moving the event a month earlier, it opened us up to include holiday displays that are not just limited to Christmas. We could also include Thanksgiving or fall," said Sandi Rose, chairman of the event aong with Cindy Strock. "The theme is ‘Home for the Holidays.' A majority of displays are still Christmas-related, but that gave us more flexibility."
Beyond shifting from December to November and broadening the focus beyond Christmas, this year's festival also:
º Compresses activities over two days instead of four.
º Adds a new event, the Beat Beethoven 5K Run/Walk.
º Brings back centerpieces and mantelpieces as featured decorations.
º Returns Symphony of Trees sportswear items to the event's marketplace.
But Rose said many features of the popular festival, held every other year, remain in place for 2012.
"We have a lot of things people look forward to -- the big showcase trees, wreaths, gift baskets. Then we have favorite events people look forward to -- the gala, luncheon and breakfast with Santa," Rose said. "We tried to capture all the really positives from the previous festivals and put them into one a little more compressed into two days."
With the shorter schedule, "we're trying to maximize what we get," Rose said. "We'll try it and see how it goes."
The popular gala with a live auction shifts from the traditional Thursday night to Friday night, in response to feedback from people who attended in the past, but the holiday luncheon remains on Friday to cater to women and businesses in the community. "It is a fundraiser. We're trying to make money for the community and maximize the money we make," Rose said. "We're keeping the hours in check so we're not open so much and not making money."
The earlier time frame also offers advantages including helping to avoid conflicts with company Christmas parties and other community events in early December and giving people a true head start on the holidays.
"People often come to Symphony of Trees and purchase big showcase trees, small trees and a variety of different auction items," Rose said. "Sometimes by the beginning of December, they already have decorations up. They don't need a big tree, don't need all that."
The goal for the festival also remains, as it has since 1992, to promote music education and appreciation.
The event has been sponsored by Encore!, the volunteer council of the Quincy Symphony Orchestra Association, since its debut in 1992.
Since that time, the festival has raised over $500,000 to support music education and appreciation in the Tri-State area. Proceeds go to support various performing groups, concerts and projects of QSOA, scholarships for student attendance at music camps and assistance to Quincy's public and parochial music programs.
"We look forward to having a great event," Rose said. "Ultimately we're trying to make a difference in the lives of the youth with music."