WESTBROOK — More than 40 trees were being decorated this week for the 18th annual Festival of Trees, a week-long event at the Westbrook Warren Congregational Church that celebrates the spirit of Christmas.

The festival, which runs Dec. 1 to Dec. 8, was started by Pat Wilson in memory of her mother Bea Elwell.

“It was such a special time of year for her,” Wilson said.

Event organizer Cheryl Leighton said this year’s event features more than 40 trees decorated by local businesses and groups, including Carpet Specialists, Saco Biddeford Savings Institute, Knight’s Property Services and Profenno’s. The Rotary Club of Westbrook-Gorham is sponsoring two trees, one for the Westbrook High School Interact Club to decorate and one for the Gorham High School Interact Club to decorate. The Westbrook Kiwanis Club is sponsoring the Westbrook High School Key Club tree and individuals have sponsored trees for Westbrook’s three elementary schools, including two for Congin.

Viewing the decorated trees is free, but there is a charge for the public dinners on Saturday, Dec 1. and Thursday, Dec. 6. While money raised has been split among local charities in years past, Wilson said the sole beneficiary this year is Westbrook Food Pantry.

“It has grown a little every year. The first year we had 18 trees. We have had as many as 52 in the past. It is a really popular event in Westbrook,” Wilson said.

“It has become a tradition for families. They so look forward to it and people come back year after year,” Leighton said.

One of the festival’s fundraising events, Tips for Charity, set to take place Friday, Dec.  7, beginning at 11:30 a.m., remains one of its more popular offerings, Wilson said. During the luncheon, local officials, such as Mayor Mike Sanphy, Police Chief Janine Roberts, Superintendent Peter Lancia, Walker Memorial Library Director Becky Albert, Councilor Lynda Adams, Westbrook Warren Congregational Church Pastor Leslie Foley and Trinity Lutheran Church Pastor Rev. Karen Indorf, wait on tables.

“It is such a fun event. People look forward to it,” Wilson said.

Other events, such as the annual Drouin Dance performance (Dec. 4 at 6:30 p.m.) and the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, which senior residents in the area are invited to, are also typically well attended, Leighton said. The tea party is set to take place from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 4 and will feature a performance by the Lighthouse Jubilees. New this year, The Boys Singers of Maine will perform at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7.

The Maine Garden Railroad Society’s model train display also remains a popular offering. Last year, close to 1,000 people came to see the display, Leighton said. The train display was first introduced at the festival a dozen years ago”to add something for kids,” Paul Corbett said as he and a team of volunteers installed this year’s display. The Maine Garden Railroad Society has also been offering a model train display at the mall for the last nine years.

Leighton said once again this year, the Salvation Army will have its Angel Tree at the festival, in which individuals can come take a gift tag and buy a gift for a child in need.

Michael Kelley can be reached at 780-9106 or [email protected] or on Twitter @mkelleynews.

Tree Viewing:

Saturday, Dec 1: 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sunday, Dec 2: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m.
Monday, Dec 3: 10 a.m. to noon; 2 p.m. to 4 pm; 6 to 7:30 pm
Tueday, Dec 4: 10 a.m. to noon; 2 p.m. to 4 pm; 6 to 8 pm
Wednesday, Dec 5: 10  a.m. to noon; 2 p.m. to 4 pm; 6 to 8 pm
Thursday, Dec 6: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Dec 7: 10 a.m. to 11 am; 2 to 4 pm; 6 to 8 p.m.
Saturday, Dec 8: 10 a.m. to noon

Maine Garden Railroad Society Model Train Display:

Saturday, Dec.1 – 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 2 – 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 3 – 9 a.m. to noon and 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 4 – 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 5 – 10 a.m. to noon and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 6 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 7 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 8 – 10 a.m. to noon

Special Events:

Saturday, Dec. 1 
Breakfast with Santa, 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Festival Feast Public Dinner, 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., $10

Sunday, Dec. 2 
Teddy Bear Tea Party with WWCC Celebration Choir, 1:30-2:30pm
An Advent Celebration: “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas” 7 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 4
Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. featuring the Lighthouse Jubilees
Drouin Dance Center Performance, 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 5
LOGOS presentation: “Cloth For The Cradle” 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 6
Public Community Dinner, noon

Friday, Dec. 7
Tips for Charity Luncheon, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Boy Singers of Maine, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 8
Mystery Gift Tree, 10 a.m. to noon

Members of the Maine Garden Railroad Society set up the model train display Monday morning. The train display will be part of the 18th annual Festival of Trees, which takes place at Westbrook-Warren Congregational Church at 810 Main St. Saturday, Dec. 1 to Saturday, Dec. 8.

Allie Bramble and Patsy Cote decorate Dairy Queen’s tree Tuesday in advance of the 18th annual Festival of Trees at the Westbrook-Warren Congregational Church. The tree’s theme this year is Socks for a Cause. After the event, the socks will be donated the My Place Teen Shelter.

This year’s Festival of Trees features more than 40 trees, including several decorated by members of Westbrook-Warren Congregational Church. This year’s festival runs Dec. 1 to Dec. 8 and includes events for both young and old.

Westbrook Historical Society’s tree this year is decorated with old photographs of people and place in the city.

Westbrook Housing’s tree, sponsored by Westbrook House of Pizza, has a safari theme.