Inaugural Holiday Walk, Festival of Trees to feature trees, music, entertainment, food

Cammy Ackley (left) and Phyllis Potter, both of Citizens Telephone in Warren, decorate the 35-foot-tall tree behind their office in preparation for the Holiday Walk and Festival of Trees to be held on Friday, Nov. 16, in downtown Warren.
Cammy Ackley (left) and Phyllis Potter, both of Citizens Telephone in Warren, decorate the 35-foot-tall tree behind their office in preparation for the Holiday Walk and Festival of Trees to be held on Friday, Nov. 16, in downtown Warren. Photo by Cindy Klepper.

The staff at Citizens Telephone in Warren has been working for two months to make enough Christmas ornaments to deck their tree.

The tree growing behind their office building, reaching an estimated 35 feet into the sky, is a good five times taller than any of the other 31 decorated trees to be on display as the community of Warren gets its holiday celebration under way.

The trees will be the stars of the show during the inaugural Holiday Walk and Festival of Trees on Friday, Nov. 16, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Other draws during the evening will include music, entertainment and food.

The evening is being coordinated by Historic Warren, the local component of the Indiana Main Street program. The Historic Warren organization is dedicated to revitalizing downtown Warren, and is undergoing a revitalization itself after lying dormant for some time.

"This is actually the first event we've had," explains member Ruth Swanson, since the organization was revived about six months ago. "We're just getting people to come to downtown Warren."

There will be plenty to see in downtown Warren - and beyond - during this Friday's event.

Thirty-two decorated trees will be on display, most of them inside the buildings that make up Warren's downtown area. Several will be outside the immediate downtown area, Swanson says, and at least one is displayed at a private residence.

A map of the trees - along with a cup of apple cider - will be available at Warren Assembly Hall, 131 N. Wayne St. in Warren. Visitors may also pick up ballots to vote for their favorite tree.

Voting will be done by cash donations and all money collected will be given to the Warren Ministerial Association. The winner of the Festival of Trees will receive a Warren Chamber Bucks gift certificate.

The 32 trees on display at 25 locations have been decorated by individuals,organizations and businesses. Anyone who lives in Warren was eligible to enter a tree, Swanson says.

The Citizens Telephone staff has already decked its giant tree with a rope garland and lights, the first step in what Citizens Telephone spokesman Cammy Ackley calls a "natural yesteryear" theme. They've
also turned out some 50 stars made of twigs and twine, 60 yarn balls, 25 birdhouses and 100 or so stamped wood ornaments.

Inside their building, they'll be serving hot chocolate and truffles, one of the many businesses that will have edible treats for visitors.

In addition to the treats available at participating businesses, the Church of Christ and the United Church of Christ will be serving cookies and punch from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Solid Rock Church will host a session of cookie decorating from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Guests can also visit with live reindeer, who will be stationed on Second Street from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., and hop aboard a horse-drawn wagon for a ride. Rides start on Second Street between 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The Warren Public Library will offer pre-school story times at 4:15 p.m. and 6:15 .m. At the United Church of Christ, Christmas puppet shows will take place at 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Live music will complement the evening's activities. The United Church of Christ will offer Christmas music on the organ from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.; the Church of Christ has Christmas music on the piano from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.; and Solid Rock Church will host Christmas music in its sanctuary from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. A brass quartet will perform at the corner of Wayne and Second streets from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

In addition, Nov. 16 is opening night for "A Christmas Story" at the Pulse Opera House in downtown Warren.

The story by Indiana writer Jean Shepherd traces young Ralphie's quest for the ultimate Christmas gift - "an official Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot range model air rifle with a compass and this thing that tells the time built right into the stock."

The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets can be reserved at www.pulseoperahouseorg or 375-7017.

Many businesses will also offer special incentives and drawings during the Holiday Walk.

Sponsors for the evening are Citizens Telephone Company, Courtyard Studio and Boutique, DeWeese Softwater and Appliance, Dr. Kevin DeaKyne, East of Chicago Pizza, PJ Flowers and Gifts/Ware-Brandon Monuments, Smekens Education and Warren Pharmacy.