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Thanksgiving Day Marks The Eve Of Festival Of Trees

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Ron Matz 370x278 Ron Matz
Ron Matz is an Emmy award-winning reporter who joined the Eyewitness...
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TIMONIUM, Md. (WJZ)—It’s one of the most popular attractions during Baltimore’s holiday season. The 23rd annual Festival of Trees gets underway Friday in Timonium.

Ron Matz reports on its special meaning for one designing family.

It’s right on track. It’s the Festival of Trees, benefitting the Kennedy Krieger Institute.

The Kemp sisters’ tree is called “And to All A Good Night.”

“It depicts Santa visiting his houses and then leaving at the top of the tree,” described Susan Dumler, tree designer.

Sister Cheri Guariglia did the houses. It’s a family affair. Mom’s here too.

“It just gives you that extra boost. You’re kind of tired this time of year, but the festival kind of picks you up and gets you going. It’s our contribution to Kennedy Krieger,” said Anita Kemp.

The Kemps are in their 12th year.

“Twelve years ago my sister Cheri worked for a company and they wanted to sponsor a tree at the festival, so they asked her to be creative and come up with something,” said Susan Dumler. “She did this for several years and the sisters in the family said ‘Wait a minute. That sounds like so much fun,’ so we started putting together ideas, and it’s just snowballed year after year.”

And it’s not just holiday trees for sale here, some amazing gingerbread houses too.

“People are going to be astounded by the Festival of Trees,” said Lainy Lebow-Sachs, Kennedy Krieger Institute. “The trees are fantastic. They’ve been decorated by volunteers. They’re going to see gingerbread houses that are absolutely unbelievable. We have 600 trees, and they’re all for sale, and we deliver them.”

More than 40,000 people came to the festival last year.

“We have a brand new train garden this year; it’s a triple decker. It’s all handmade by volunteers,” Lebow-Sachs said. “We have a Santa land where the kids can spend three or four hours and still not get done with everything. We have a merry go round and pony rides, everything you can think of.

“We have entertainment on stage every hour on the hour, jump rope dancing, Irish dancing. All the stuff you love to see at the festival,” she explained. “It takes us 10 days to set up the festival, but it’s so important for Kennedy Krieger. Families are what we’re all about. The children and the parents.”

Every year, the Kemps come back to remember their sister Holly.

“We do this in memory of my sister Holly. She loved the Christmas season. She’s no longer with us. Every year when we’re together we realize she would have so much fun doing this with us,” Dumler said.

As part of our continuing community commitment, WJZ is a proud sponsor of Kennedy Krieger’s Festival of Trees. It runs Friday through Sunday at the Timonium fairgrounds.

For more information on the festival of trees, click here.

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