Christmas is a magical time of the year and Akron Children’s Hospital makes it even more magnificent with their annual Holiday Tree Festival. Starting the Friday before Thanksgiving until the following Sunday, this nine-day tree decorating festival transforms the John S. Knight Center into a Christmas wonderland and a place for new memories to be made each year. Most importantly, the festival also helps patients of Akron Children’s Hospital.
“It’s a wonderful time to build memories with families,” says Vicki Parisi, the director of volunteer and visitor services at Akron Children’s Hospital. “It’s a free event and it’s just a real honor to work with all the volunteers. [They] really work their hearts out to make sure it’s a beautiful event for the community.”
Parisi has participated in the Tree Festival since its beginning 34 years ago, and says that through the years they’ve raised $4.7 million. “Last year was our largest donation to the hospital, which was $300,000; that was a record,” she says.
The donations are used to help patients with education, research and medical care, as well as funding many special programs that improve the patient experience.
Although some of the donations come from tree donators and sponsors, most of the money comes from the opening-night gala, as well as the purchase of trees. “We also have a beautiful silent auction the night of the gala and that’s a beautiful table that’s set up with different items for everyone to purchase,” says Parisi.
The silent auction includes a trip to a condo in St. Augustine, a trip to the Peek n’ Peak Resort, jewelry, flowers, Cavs tickets and more.
Throughout the duration of the festival, the John S. Knight Center is filled with families decorating over 400 trees and wreaths, and many holiday gifts. The hospital has over 1,200 volunteers that pull off this huge undertaking.
“It’s very much a tradition for people and a lot of families do it every year,” says Parisi. “The hospital appreciates their volunteers because they take so much time to pull off this