Planning for the annual Festival of Trees is nearly a year-round event.
"We started planning in March," said Susan Somers, board chair for the Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line. Over the past year, the group has arranged for entertainment, lined up organizations to decorate trees, contacted sponsors, sought donations for the silent auction and much more.
Things are reaching a fever pitch, as the Friday, Dec. 2, festival nears.
The fourth annual festival will be at the former Bi-Mart location in the Holiday Village Mall.
There will be some new things this year. Blind Luck will perform, and Pam Langel will cater, she said.
But the spirit will be the same as the last three festivals, she said.
Twelve groups have signed up to decorate trees that will be auctioned off during the evening, she said.
The Red Hatters are working on a quilt tree that will be auctioned off also. There will be an array of items for the silent auction.
On Thursday, Dec. 1, there will be an open house, 7 to 9 p. m., so the public can walk through and enjoy the decorated trees.
Somers said the open house has traditionally been in the afternoon, but many families said they had a hard time making it during the day.
Besides, the lighted trees have a special allure in the dark.
"They are so beautiful at night," she said.
The money raised will once again go the Boys & Girls Club.
In the past, she said, the proceeds went into the endowment fund, but this year, with state and federal budget cuts and tough economic times, the money will be pumped into the day-to-day operations.
The Boys & Girls Club provides after-school activities for about 180 to 190 young people every day, she said.
Despite all the hard work, volunteers get a real sense of joy from working with the festival, she said.
Volunteers are still looking for donations for the festival.
"We were just out today," she said. "This is the most wonderful community."
Despite all the tough times, people and businesses have been extremely generous in making contributions, she said.
Here is the list of groups and people who will sponsor Christmas trees at this year's Festival of Trees:
• Triangle Communications
• First Presbyterian Church
• Northern Montana Hospital
• Optimists Club
• Linda Johnson
• Atrium Mall merchants
• Flathers family and Krista Solomon
• Jeri Cook and Lynda Taplin
• Hill County Tavern Association/Holden's Hot Wheels
• and a quilt from Red Hatters
Tickets to the Festival of Trees are $25 each and can be purchased at the Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line.