Karrie Panka, of Gold Hill, is reflected in an ornament on her Elves' Christmas Tree at the Providence Festival of Trees. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch - Jamie Lusch

North Pole, South

While they were growing up, Mark Seus and Leslie Seus-Myers recall, their home might as well have been at the North Pole.

The siblings' mother, Connie Seus, dressed it to the nines in a symphony of decorations and lights, and her Christmas trees were so legendary that friends and neighbors came to see them.

"Christmases growing up in our house were magical," Seus-Myers said.

This year, Seus and Seus-Myers are paying tribute to the artistic ability and passion of their mother, who died last year. They have designed their own Christmas tree, which will be on display at the Providence Festival of Trees at the Medford Armory, 1701 S. Pacific Highway. Proceeds from the 21st annual event will go to fund Providence Medford Medical Center's palliative-care program.

Jodi Barnard, executive director for the Providence Community Health Foundation, said the palliative-care program is for patients living with chronic conditions and serious diseases. In the Festival of Trees' 21 years, more than $6 million has been raised for a variety of hospital programs.

Participants in this year's event were hard at work setting up their exhibits Tuesday.

Public viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1; and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2. A holiday gift shop, pictures with Santa, and entertainment from several area choirs and musical ensembles also will be featured at the event.

The Seus family's tree is called "Sparkle Plenty: A Christmas in Heaven," titled after their father's nickname for their mother. The white, silver and gold tree is brightly lit and covered with her old ornaments.

“She was a very quiet, soft-spoken mom, but boy, her trees could sing,” Seus said.

Connie Seus was involved in past Festival of Trees events in some capacity for many years, event officials said.

A forest of other brightly colored saplings will join the tribute tree, each with its own design and theme.

“Elves’ Christmas,” by Karrie Panka and Lynn Haye,s depicts Santa’s elves doing anything but working beneath two large trees. They streak across a sheet of silver ice, huddle around a roaring fire, ski down a white slope and rush through the air on a zipline made of Christmas lights.

“My idea was for the elves to be having fun,” Hayes said.

Nearby, Sharon Rajagopal, Vicky Arne and Debbie Anderson prepped their tree, which is based on the popular tablet game “Angry Birds.” The scene depicts a giant slingshot shooting the famed birds into the air. One dangles by a string, as if in mid-flight, while the other is surrounded by multicolored rope of Christmas lights, depicting an explosion upon impact.

“There’s a story here,” Rajagopal said of the scene. “We love to appeal to the kids.”

Karen Denman, who has participated in the festival off and on for the past 15 years, will have a train exhibit this year. A model train will encircle the base of her tree, while a lit-up village glitters in the branches above.

“I kind of like being able to let my creative juices go nuts,” Denman said, adding that she has been to similar tree festivals, but Providence’s stands out.

“This is a class act,” she said.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at

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