Karrie Panka, of Gold Hill, is reflected in an ornament on her Elves Christmas Tree at the 2012 Providence Festival of Trees. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch - Jamie Lusch

Providence Festival of Trees

The annual fundraiser kicks off at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec&346; 4, with a black-tie dinner and holiday tree auction. The Holiday Party will be from 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, with wine, beer, food and live music by rock band Colonel Mustard.

A new Teddy Bear Hospital — designed to help children get over anxieties about going in for medical care — will highlight this year's gala Providence Festival of Trees fundraiser for medical programs.

Kids can bring in their teddy bear or buy one on-site for $3, then walk it through the process of treating whatever ailment the children name, from a broken leg to a broken heart, says event coordinator Erin Carpenter.

Kids will get to see a radiological image of their bear's heart or broken bone and have the limb bandaged.

"It will be a no-poke friendly environment, addressing the fact that children are often frightened about needles and other aspects of hospitals," says Carpenter. "This shows them the fear is not necessary."

This, the 22nd year of the popular Festival of Trees, is sponsored by Providence Medford Medical Center. It takes place Wednesday through Sunday, Dec. 4-8, at the Medford Armory, 1701 S. Pacific Highway.

During the past 21 years, Providence Festival of Trees has raised more than $6.4 million to benefit a variety of technology purchases and clinical programs at Providence Medford Medical Center.

The festival will see 38 large Christmas trees auctioned live, and 22 table-top trees will go through a silent auction, along with wreaths, all designed and decorated by talented local professionals and business staff members.

The goal is to raise $400,000, with the funds going for local health programs, indigent children in need of care and a $1.8 million da Vinci robotic surgical system for use in prostate, gynecological, kidney cancers, urology and other procedures, Carpenter says. It will replace an earlier model, which was the first such noninvasive robotic system in the valley six years ago.

The annual fundraiser kicks off Wednesday, Dec. 4, with a black-tie dinner and holiday tree auction. Tickets cost $150.

The Holiday Party, featuring a taste of the town — food from many caterers, and drinks from six wineries and two breweries — will run from 6 to 10 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 5. The festivities will include dancing to a live band, Colonel Mustard. Attendees must be 21 or older, and the cost is $50.

At 6 p.m. Friday, a private Evening of Giving will be held for families who can't afford the earlier events. The free evening will feature entertainment and crafts, and will include a photo with Santa.

Public events will fill out the weekend, running from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission costs $5; $3 for children and seniors.

A holiday store will offer collectible Santas, ornaments, toys, children's books and other festive presents. A raffle will offer $3,000 in gift certificates, and there will be $600 worth of goodies under the tree.

Among the attractions will be an actual children's house built by the Home Builders of Jackson County.

Southern Oregon Humane Society will do a display on what pets do on snow days.

A Pac-12 Celebration Tree will offer Rose Bowl tickets.

Kids will be delighted with the "Up" movie, One in a Minion Christmas, Christmas with Turbo, the annual Toy Sleigh and Christmas in Legoland.

Children can sit on Santa's lap and get a photo taken for $5, or parents can take their own pictures free.

"The Festival focuses on children in need in our community," says Providence spokeswoman Hillary Brown. "We work with many organizations who choose the children in financial need. It's a big opportunity to have a happy Ye Olde Christmas event. We have the best designers in the valley creating the trees, and it brings together the giving spirit of all the businesses."

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at

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