Eighty businesses and groups gathered at Kokomo Town Center Mall Sunday afternoon to decorate Christmas trees for the 2013 We Care Trim-A-Tree Festival which kicks off today.
The former Phar-Mor store on the west side of the center was packed with people, Christmas lights, decorations and ornaments as the groups tried to put together the most eye-catching display to fetch the highest bid during the annual auction Nov. 17.
For the next two weeks, people can also vote for their favorite decorations by tossing money into buckets placed in front of each tree. Whichever receives the most donations wins the People’s Choice Award.
All the money goes towards We Care, a local non-profit fundraising group that supports local charity work.
“Today’s going very well,” said festival coordinator Mariesa Skogland. “People are coming in, they’re very excited, they listened to the announcements and off they go.”
One of those groups heading off to decorate their tree was Taylor Southeast Baseball.
Bill Brubaker, the group’s treasurer, said they’re the first little league team to participate in the festival, which has now been going on for 21 years.
“The girls on the baseball board were all talking and saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to get a We Care tree and try to help?’ We all said sure,” he said.
The tree sported Taylor’s colors — red, black and silver — as well as a subtle baseball theme. Brubaker said it also honors Ryan Beining, who played on the team before doctors found a cancerous tumor on his brain last year.
The school renamed one of its baseball diamonds “Ryan’s Field” last month to show support for the Taylor Elementary School second-grader after they decided to participate in the Trim-A-Tree Festival.
“We thought, ‘We’re doing this, but we have someone right here on our team who needs help, so why don’t we do something for him,” Brubaker said.