Traditions provide a bridge between past and present, and the link between old and new is illustrated in Christmas colors by the Festival of Trees at Embassy Theatre.
For 35 years, the annual event has featured elaborately decorated trees and tours of the performance venue built in 1928, once known as the Emboyd Theatre. That was again true Saturday, as thousands paraded through the theater and past dozens of trees lining the lobby and other open spaces.
For some, the festival is as much a tradition as stringing colored lights and hanging ornaments on a tree in their own homes.
“It's a great way to spend the holidays with family,” said Jacob McConnell, who was there with daughter, Alice, 3, and son, Truett, 6.
The three were waiting on the second floor for McConnell's wife, Stephanie, and Truett had just visited Santa – another tradition.
This year's theme is Holiday Memories, and many of the 60 trees evoked remembrances of yesteryear.
The “Remember When ... ” tree was decorated with tinsel, old toys and black-and-white photographs. A tree labeled “Holiday Road” featured garland created from old Indiana license plates.
“I've been coming to this since I was a kid,” said Nick Claypool, who waited with his son, Atlas, 5, near a table where children could write letters to St. Nicholas. “The trees change every year – something different.”
Dance troupes also performed on the theater's stage.
The festival, a fundraiser for the nonprofit theater, opened Nov. 27 and continues through Wednesday.
Embassy Chief Marketing Officer Carly Myers said more than 20,000 people visit the event each year. The goal, she said, is to offer something for everyone to enjoy.
“I think a lot of people want to support the Embassy and what we do here,” Myers said.
Ian Alday and fiancée Megan Leman said they attend every year.
“I always like the money tree,” Alday said, referring to a tree where visitors are asked to guess how much cash is on it. “The Komets tree is kinda cool.”
First Place Overall: “Remember When ... ” – Sponsored by Hallmark Home Mortgage and decorated by Bruce Ewing Landscaping
Second Place Overall:“Christmas Mischief” - Sponsored by Welch's Ale House/After Dark Nightclub and decorated by Scott Miller and Matt Gallaway
Third Place Overall: “Be the Gift of Christmas” – Sponsored by WFWA PBS39 and decorated by Lisa Rysiawa
Honorable Mention Overall:“Candy Land Christmas” – Sponsored by Anonymous and decorated by Leah Schoenle
Best Use of Festival Theme: “Remember When ... ” – Sponsored by Hallmark Home Mortgage and decorated by Bruce Ewing Landscaping
Best Tree Topper:“Broadway at the Embassy” – Sponsored by Broadway at the Embassy and decorated by Bret Wilson, Jessica Koehneke and Tracy Clark
Best Ornamentation: “A Beary Merry Christmas” – Sponsored by Vera Bradley and decorated by Vera Bradley
People's Choice Awards will be selected by festival attendees and announced Thursday.