Over the weekend, Republic Bank presented the Festival of Trees and Lights at Slugger Field, where I got an early demo of Christmas festivitiesâ€¦well before Thanksgiving. It certainly was (and still is) cold enough outside to fool me. This is a family-themed bright and shiny happening for kids and holiday junkies who canâ€™t wait to catch some waves in the Christmas-tide. And all the celebrating is for a noble cause.
The Childrenâ€™s Hospital Foundation hosts this show annually and this is their 25th year doing so. It is a weekend fundraiser for the hospital and neuroscience program, focusing specifically on the improvement of facilities and research benefitting children with dire conditions. All sales from the weekend go to this charity.
In the entrance area, was a gifts, games and activities vendor. Along the corridor was a stretch of Hanukkah light decorations and menorahs, many of which were cordially loaned by local temples. The interior of Slugger Fieldâ€™s hall was warmed by the surrounding glow of an array of decked-out synthetic trees and wreaths for sale, courtesy of hundreds of volunteers, including contributions from local businesses and organizations. The trees varied in glimmering color and featuring eccentric details upon closer instpection. The Cake Flour bakery had a rather appetizing display of ornaments while the Bourbon Trail tree made me look forward to a lazy Christmas.
The window side of the lobby facing Main Street had a gallery of holiday living rooms on display. One grand standout was the radiant champagne-hued setup by The Desired Effect from Floyds Knobs Indiana. The design firms of Leslie Cotter, Barry Wooley and Dennis Tapp also had some unique arrangements. The Butchertown Market store, Work the Metal, had an imaginative exhibition, as did Sullivan Universityâ€™s Interior Design department with their â€œFrozenâ€ themed room.
On my way in, kids enjoyed ice-skating in a rink set up outside the entrance. The interior was packed with parents and mentors guiding little ones through the indoor forest of ribbons and lights while making their way to the eventâ€™s activities, which included face painting, gift-wrapping, crafts and a visit with Santa Clause. Holiday songs were performed on stage throughout the night. This was Dickens Night where talented young actors strolled the event in Victorian guard greeting the guests properly.
The evening ended with the Slugger Field staple of fireworks. The simplicity of escaping the echoing carols and colorful interior into the bleak cold where bundled-up kids conversed with their loved ones, staying warm – with complementary hot cocoa and cider – brought back some of my fondest memories of the holidays. Iâ€™ve always liked the cold because it reminds people how to appreciate many of the simple things that keep us feeling warm and safe, whether it be the sight of something big and bright, a warm drink or the kindness of someone you care for right next to you. So many things that matter become so much more apparent when a brisk breeze gets you shaking.
I left Slugger Field that night with a long walk back to my truck, while watching a tall father ahead of me carry his tiny, chatty daughter on his shoulders. One day Iâ€™ll be a parent too, and events like this one will be very special and exciting to that noisy little kiddo over whom I will watch. More importantly, it will always be special for the kids who depend on the help that Kosair Children’s Hospital provides.
Kosair Children’s Hospital and the Childrenâ€™s Hospital Foundation will be hosting The Snow Ball at Louisville Marriot Downtown this weekend, Saturday, Nov. 22 at 6 p.m. It isÂ a black tie event and will be a major force in contributing to their causes. For tickets, call 502.629.8060.
Photos by BENNETT DUCKWORTH | Contributing Photographer