Even though it isn’t quite Thanksgiving, it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas in downtown Ogden. Part of that is thanks to the Weber School Foundation’s Christmas Tree Jubilee at the Eccles Conference Center running all day Wednesday and Friday. Interested patrons can see up to 100 trees and a huge selection of wreaths and décor for free from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days.
There is also a special children’s event from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday with visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus, crafts galore and special treats for the kids.
Trees are bought, decorated and donated to the event by local businesses, community members and families and then auctioned off through the week. A big gala is held on Tuesday night with both silent and live auctions on gift baskets and different prizes as well as the donated wreaths and trees, said Chris Zimmerman, Weber School District Foundation Director.
A lot of things are bought and auctioned off at the gala Tuesday night, but Zimmerman said there are usually at least 50 trees still available for sale by the open and free event starting Wednesday.
Trees usually range from $200 to $2,000 and wreaths go from between $100 to $500. “When you think about it, you might pay around $200 for a tree and by the time you decorate it, it’s about the price of one of ours, but everything is already done for you,” Zimmerman said. “Plus, volunteers spend their day Saturday bagging and delivering trees too.”
Laura Kier oversees the event as a volunteer but says the event wouldn’t be possible without a great staff of many volunteers that oversee each facet of the week from Monday’s set-up to Tuesday’s gala.
“This is a great, strong community event with people who are dedicated to the children in this community,” Kier said.
Zimmerman is amazed by the event each year and has loved watching it evolve. He has worked with the jubilee since he came on board with the foundation 11 years ago, but said it’s been going on for 40 years.
The first event was held at Canyon View school when the PTA wanted to help buy a wheelchair for a special needs child at the school. They auctioned off their first trees then. At the time, the tradition of holding the celebration to help special needs children began.
Now over $400,000 is raised each year to help special needs children in all of Weber County.
“Some people think this is just for children in Weber County School District, but it’s not. It’s for children in Weber and Ogden Districts as well as children in need at the charter schools,” Zimmerman said.
Things like a handicap accessible van, a special ski chair for a little girl who longed to ski with her family and bicycles specially made for special needs children are just some of the things bought with the donated funds.
Kier said major business partners like America First Credit Union, Kier Construction Companies, Get Away Today, Wells Fargo, Lindquist Mortuaries, Wadman Corporation, KSL and the Craig Adams family really get the event on its feet and make it run.
Zimmerman admits it’s a whole lot of work, but worth every second when they see all the good the funds do throughout the year.
“It’s really touching to see a family that has benefited from the jubilee come back and do a tree,” Zimmerman said.