TIMONIUM, Md. (WJZ) — A Maryland holiday tradition kicks off. Thousands of people headed to the Timonium Fairgrounds for the first day of Kennedy Krieger’s Festival of Trees.

Monique Griego has more on the big event that lasts all weekend.

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As soon as the gatekeeper called, a line of anxious attendees–both big and small–poured into the Maryland State Fairgrounds for the most anticipated event of the holiday season.

“The line was wrapped around the whole building. The second the doors opened, the place exploded with people. And I love it!” said Lainy Lebow-Sachs, Kennedy Krieger Institute.

For many people, Kennedy Krieger’s three day winter wonderland known as the Festival of Trees is now a family tradition.

“Even if I go home for Thanksgiving, we make sure to make it back so we can at least go to Sunday,” said Joe Lin, festival attendee.

Despite Black Friday sales at the big box stores, thousands came out to see all of the expertly decorated trees, crafts and 120 boutique booths.

“This is my first grandchild. And I said, ‘Oh, he’s almost two.’ So we just came out to see the trees,” one woman said.

So, what are the kids excited about?

“Um, um, um, ummmm,” said T.J. Weer, festival attendee.

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While T.J. was too in awe to speak, his sister knew her favorite part.

“The gingerbread houses! And I want to eat it,” said Hannah Weer.

While the Christmas trees are the focal point of the festival, extravagant houses in gingerbread town are becoming a main attraction.

“The pink one… because of the little gum drops,” said Cameron Smithers, festival attendee.

“We come just about every year, and they surprise us every year with something different,” said Amanda Schaeffer, festival attendee.

And those who spend money at the festival say knowing it helps support Kennedy Krieger only adds to the Christmas spirit.

“It’s just fun, and we’re supporting a good cause,” said Ella Weer, festival attendee.

Proceeds from the festival benefit patient care, research and education at Kennedy Krieger Institute.

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