“Come along.  Step right in.  I know it looks scary, but trust me you’ll be fine.  We have room for you, me, and your son and daughter.  Let’s go on an adventure, a mere 17 days into the future.  Destination: The Midcoast Tree Festival at St. John’s Community Center.  The date: Saturday, Nov. 23.”

You bravely step into the metal tube with its safety lights and hoses steaming away.  You’re holding the hand of each child; a bit nervous, a bit excited.  As I’m typing in the coordinates on the key pad, the time machine doors close.  In the faint green light of the interior you see the excitement in the eyes of your daughter, and the brave shuddering lower lip of your son, trying to be as brave as possible.

“Alright, we are ready to go.  I suggest you close your eyes as it’ll get very bright in here.”  You make sure your children follow the rules, and you close your eyes too.  “Three. Two. One. Here we go…”  The machine begins to rock slightly underfoot, steam begins to hiss.  The rocking becomes heavier, the light begins to whiten on your closed lids and the steam turns from a hiss to a blare.  It takes no more than three seconds for the machine to crescendo. Suddenly, the rocking abruptly stops- then the steam cuts out just one full second later.  And with a snap, the light is gone and you are back in darkness.  Darkness but with a faint green hue.

“You can open your eyes now.  We’re here.”

The doors open and you step out, with your children, into the St. John’s parking lot.  It looks decidedly different then the nearly empty parking lot you were just in moments ago when you shut the door.  The again, that was before you jumped 17 days into the future.

Now there are cars everywhere.  Friends and neighbors piling out of minivans in their pine-tree clad sweaters and candy cane stockings.  A billboard is on the front lawn that says “Midcoast Tree Festival, Nov. 22-24 and Nov. 29- Dec. 1.” Everyone is strolling to the entrance doors and there is even a slight line forming.  Your daughter tries her best to drag you towards the entrance.  I escort you to the line, as your personal tour guide.


“Can you help us bypass the line?” you ask.

“I don’ have that kind of power,” I reply with a smile.

But the line moves steadily enough, and the three dozen people ahead of you get in the door rather steadily and at least that many are now behind you in line.  A nice volunteer wearing elf ears welcomes you, and you recognize him from that Rotary Club meeting you were invited to that one time.

You come to the entry table where two ladies and a gentlemen welcome you. A ‘cash only please’ sign is on the table.

“Welcome to the Midcoast Tree Festival.  How old are the children?” they ask.

“My daughter is 14 and my son is 10.”


“Then that’ll be $4 entry because children 12 and under get in free.”  You hand over the cash.  I hand them my two dollars as well.  They give us entry tickets and tell us we can use these for any of the prizes against the wall.

We head over to entry prize display- it’s a rack of wreaths, about 20 in all, and each has a different non-profit’s name on them.  There is one from Big Brothers/Big Sisters that incorporates their logo.  One from SASSMM.  One from the Harspwell Radio Project.  Two in honor of ships in the water and their crews.  We each pick our favorites and put our door entry tickets in the bucket for the wreaths we want.

By the far gymnasium door, a nice lady is waving to you.  You look at me cautiously.

“Let’s go see them, I think you’ll like this,” I say.

We walk over to the doorway and she welcomes you.  And then you see the first tree.  Actually your daughter does.  It’s a 7-foot tree with Disney items all over it just inside the doorway.  While the greeter is explaining the process to you, your son and daughter go over to the tree to get a closer look.  On the bucket post is a sign about everything that is included in the tree space.  You can hear them reading the list out loud to each other and you see their excitement build.  You realize you already got your $4 worth.

Out of the blue, the greeter lady says, “Did you get all that?”  Embarrassed you admit that weren’t paying attention.  “No problem” she says, “it happens a lot- it’s pretty overwhelming.  Here’s the quick version.  It’s 11AM now, so we have children’s crafts on the stage for another hour. If you want to buy tickets for the tree raffle they’re 50 cents apiece and right over there, and each tree has a minimum value of $500.  If you win, you get everything in the tree space including the tree and the decorations.  How’s that sound?”


“Amazing,” you say.

“Also, the school choir begins at 1:00 on the stage if you’re still around.  50/50 tickets are in that corner over there, we draw that every day a half-hour before we close. And if you want any concessions, follow your nose out that door and around the corner.”

Before you can take that all in, your son runs back to you.

“There is a lego tree.  A whole lego tree!”

The nice greeter, taps you on the shoulder.

“Sweetie, can I just have you take a couple of steps over so these nice people can get through the door.”  And you do.  And you look around, stunned at this win-tree wonderland laid out before you.

“What do you want to do first?” I ask…  See Part Two in next Wednesday’s edition.

Cory King is the executive director of the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber.

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