On the second-floor mezzanine at the Historic Davenport Hotel, Spokane resident Debbie Gilchrist stopped to admire a tall, rotating Christmas tree adorned with red-and-white decorations as her husband dropped a raffle ticket into a clear box.
“Some (trees) are just breathtaking, like this one,” Gilchrist said. “It’s fun to see the creativity that goes into each tree.”
The Gilchrists are among many visitors to Christmas Tree Elegance, an annual event held by the Spokane Symphony Associates, a nonprofit organization of more than 300 volunteers who raise funds to support the Spokane Symphony.
The event, in its 37th year, features 18 themed trees with thousands of dollars in prizes at the Historic Davenport and River Park Square. Raffle tickets are $1 each for a chance to win the decorated trees and prizes up to $4,999 in value.
Gilchrist said it’s her third year visiting Christmas Tree Elegance and her favorites are the “Let’s Go Shopping” tree, which includes a $4,500 cash prize at the Historic Davenport, and the “Golden Moments” tree at River Park Square, which includes $1,500 in cash, a mantle with an electric fireplace, a fur rug and a fire pit, among other prizes.
“It’s a fun event families can do together, or you can grab a friend, come downtown and enjoy the beautiful trees,” Gilchrist said.
Christmas Tree Elegance raised a record-breaking $450,000 last year for the Spokane Symphony and has become a tradition for many area residents.
Ticket sales have been brisk since the event kicked off Tuesday, with purchases from locals and from visitors as far away as Indiana and Arizona, said Peggy Springer, raffle co-chair for the Spokane Symphony Associates.
“It is going well. We are running ahead of last year’s sales,” Springer said. “Generally, the most popular tree is the beautiful, rotating cash tree.”
In addition to cash trees at the Davenport and River Park Square, other prizes up for grabs this year include a Harley-Davidson motorcycle with riding lessons and a $500 gift card, trips to Canada and Mexico, a scenic flight over Spokane in a Cessna 206, Gonzaga men’s basketball tickets, season tickets for the Spokane Civic Theatre, gift certificates, a camping package, jewelry and many other items.
An Old World Father Christmas sculpture by Elizabeth Raol is also available in the raffle at the Historic Davenport.
Spokane Valley resident Marsha Schlecht said her favorite display is the “Hello Kitty Kristmas” tree, sponsored by Belanger Charitable Fund.
The tree comes with a $3,000 cash prize, a black matte bedroom vanity with mirror and stool, a Sanrio plush Hello Kitty, Pottery Barn porcelain Hello Kitty lamp, and two tickets to Masterworks: Monumental Grandeur by the Spokane Symphony Orchestra.
Gail Belanger said her daughter – a Hello Kitty fan – inspired the idea for the tree.
It took about a year, Belanger said, to collect the Hello Kitty-themed ornaments and items.
“The main thing is to get your theme early, then you can take advantage of post-Christmas sales,” she said. “I missed out on Hello Kitty 45th anniversary things, but I think I did pretty well.”
Belanger and husband, Doug, put the finishing touches on the tree Monday.
“There’s appeal for Hello Kitty that spans the ages I’ve found,” she said. “I try to tell a story with everything, and I just have a lot of fun doing it. Doug and I are happy to sponsor the tree.”
As part of the event, holiday luncheons will be held Dec. 10 and 11 at 11 a.m. with new Music Director James Lowe and Spokane Symphony members in the Grand Pennington Ballroom at the Historic Davenport.
Ticket sales for 12 trees at the Historic Davenport and Old World Father Christmas end Dec. 14 at 9 p.m, with the drawing to follow. Sales for six trees at River Park Square end Dec. 15 at 4 p.m. with a drawing to follow.
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