BALTIMORE (WJZ)— For three days after Thanksgiving, the Maryland State Fairgrounds transforms into a winter wonderland. The Kennedy Krieger Festival of Trees opened its doors Friday morning.
Andrea Fujii explains there are some new attractions.
With 600 decorated trees, wreaths and gingerbread houses, the holiday spirit abounds.
“I think they get better every year,” said one visitor. “I really do.”
And it’s all for sale, with the money raised supporting the Kennedy Krieger Institute, including Kennedy Krieger High School.
They teach about 200 high schoolers with a range of disabilities, from students with minor learning disabilities like Rafael Marrow to teens with Asperger’s syndrome like Georgi Prenatt.
And this year they are both the first ever festival ambassadors.
“Incredibly excited,” said Georgi.
“Proud and very well accomplished,” said Rafael.
Nominated by their teachers for the positions, their job is to talk to festival goers about their school, where each student picks an industry focus to help them after they graduate.
In building class, Rafael says he’d have a hard time in any other environment.
He would be “under a lot of pressure and maybe very confused and unable to adapt to the environment,” he said.
With a focus in horticulture, Georgi has learned a lot about herself.
“It’s ok to ask for help, and there’s nothing wrong with admitting there’s something wrong with you,” she said.
Last year, the festival brought in $1 million. Part of that goes to the high school to help with supplies and other programs. This year they hope to top it.
And by seeing the faces the festival helps, they may just pass the $1 million mark.
Kennedy Krieger high schoolers also plan to provide entertainment this year at the festival.
WJZ is a proud sponsor of the Festival of Trees.
For hours and entrance fees, click here.