This Is Rutherford
55 Kip Center's Annual Festival of Trees and Wreaths
By Jennifer Ersalesi
Photos submitted by Andrea Davis
As the holiday season approaches, the 55 Kip Center invites the community to take part in the 27th Annual Festival of Trees and Wreaths. Cathy Baviello, Director of 55 Kip Center, told TIR, “Festival of Trees is 55 Kip Center's treasured community tradition and we are thrilled to be able to continue this year! We could not do it without our community partners and the 50 plus others who participate!”
From November 11th through December 12th, the Kip Center will be decorated with trees and wreaths decorated by a number of different community groups, individuals, children, businesses, artists, and organizations.
For over twelve years, there has been a group of neighborhood friends first known as "Raymond Ave Girls" and now known as "Raymond Ave Neighbors and Friends" who have gotten together to create wreaths for the Festival. Eileen Davis began this tradition with her neighbors on Raymond Ave, which included Flora Folio, a member of 55 Kip Center, who will be 99 years old this year. Unfortunately, Flora is no longer able to participate, as she is in a rehabilitation center, but her granddaughter, Krista, took her place this year. Years ago neighbors on Hawthorne Ave and Carlton Place joined the group so the name was changed to "Raymond Ave Neighbors and Friends".
Andrea Davis spoke about her friend Eileen, "Eileen started this tradition. She is gifted at bringing attention to things that are meaningful. She is the one leading the good in the neighborhood. I have learned from the best how to give back to our community."
Up until this year, Eileen Davis has invited the group to meet at her house. However this year, her friend and neighbor Andrea hosted. Andrea explained, "Eileen has hosted every year, but this year I asked her to let me. She works in healthcare and has been working throughout COVID, but I'm telecommuting so it was easier for me this year."
Eileen explained, "We put together twenty wreaths this year while wearing masks. Each year we give each other ideas and help one another with themes." Over the years some of our participants have won prizes for their entries. "I suppose some have gotten a little competitive," Andrea told TIR.
This year's participants included: Andrea Davis, Eileen Davis, Gavin and Nataliya Davis (Eileen's son & daughter in law), Eileen Fuentes, Lori Silva, Margaret Mazzola, Tracy Bean, Renuka Pinto, Joann DeZego, Joyce Herlihy, and Krista Ponti (granddaughter of Floria Folio). Past participants include Janell Vaughan, Pat Wester, Peggy Tattoli, Oksana Korduba, Beth Toole, Elaine Reicherz, Andrea Dray, and Motrya Fedorko.
Some of the themes of the wreaths designed by the Raymond Ave Neighbors and Friends are Pandemic, Socks, Dinosaurs, and Antibacterial Soaps.
All are welcome to visit the Kip Center between November 11th and December 12th for holiday tree and wreath viewing. Masks will be required and social distancing rules will be enforced. Raffle tickets for the trees and wreaths and 50/50 tickets can be purchased while visiting (see the flyer below for more information). The 50/50 Winner and Tree and Wreath winners will be pulled on the last day of the Festival, December 12th at 1 pm.
55 Kip Center will be open during these times throughout the Festival:
Tuesday-Friday 9 am- 3 pm
Saturday, November 28th and December 5th from 11 am - 3 pm
Saturday, December 12th from 9 am-12:30 pm