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Festival of Trees evergreens will draw oohs and aahs from even the biggest Grinches

Festival of Trees evergreens will draw oohs and aahs from even the biggest Grinches

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Who said Santa Claus was some chubby dude who traveled the world by way of a sleigh propelled by eight airborne reindeer?

The gift-bearing gent could just as easily be a Time Lord extraterrestrial who gets around by piloting a spaceship that looks suspiciously like one of those old-timey blue police boxes you'd see on the streets of London, right?

OK, it might be tough picturing a TARDIS fitting in most chimneys, but George Murphy is convinced a certain shape-shifting scientist from the planet Gallifrey can be an acceptable alternative to Jolly St. Nick. 

VISIONS OF DASTARDLY DALEKS DANCING IN YOUR HEAD?

Indeed the KCAU-TV chief engineer is busy prepping a "Doctor Who"-inspired evergreen for the 27th annual Festival of Trees at the Ho-Chunk Centre, 614 Fourth St.

Wait, Murphy was working on a Christmas tree filled with decor associated with the long-running BBC science-fiction show? Ho-ho-huh?

"Yeah, it's a bit out there, I guess," he said, taking homemade 3-D ornaments out of the box. "Think it will stand out."

According to Murphy's wife, Brenda, owner of the Sioux City-based BrandBuilder International marketing company, a "Doctor Who" tree was a canny concession.

"I've always wanted to decorate a Festival of Trees tree but wanted George's help," Brenda explained. "I knew he'd help with a sci-fi tree."

ART FORM WITH A CANVAS THAT SHEDS NEEDLES

For non-"Doctor Who" fans, there will be 73 other specially designed holiday trees inside the Ho-Chunk Centre's atrium. Plus you have until 6:30 p.m. Dec. 5 to make a bid for the tree of your dreams. That's when the live auction will be taking place.

Over the past 26 years, the Festival of Trees has raised more than $385,000 for local nonprofit organizations, auctioning off artistic trees, according to the event's co-chair, Tom Molstad.

"This year, our proceeds will be going towards Lila Mae's House, which assists victims of human trafficking," he said.

GIVING TO A GOOD CAUSE

In addition, the Festival of Trees will have a Giving Tree for people wanting to take a card from a special tree, purchase the item on the card and return it to the tree. Lila Mae's House will then be able to use the item.

Molstad has been involved with the holiday display for the past 25 years. His fellow co-chair, Sioux City-based clinical therapist Rosie Stronck, has been involved since the very beginning.

"We've had generations of families who consider the Festival of Trees to be an annual holiday tradition," he said. "That's a nice feeling."

After all, people know they'll see elaborate trees and wreaths decorated by businesses, churches, nonprofit organizations and schools, including Morningside College, which designed its tree to reflect its 125th anniversary.

S. CLAUS IS IN DA HOUSE!

This year, the Festival of Trees will be getting some new neighbors from the North Pole.

Presented by UnityPoint Health - St. Luke's Partners and sponsored by Great West Casualty and Liberty National Bank, Santa's House will be a very popular destination at Ho-Chunk Centre's Suite 109.

Admission to Santa's House is free and kids can create holiday craft projects  and listen to a story by Mrs. Claus. We believe children will also be able to discuss gifting options with her old man.

Visitors will be able to pick up inexpensive gifts from Santa's Gift Shop for as little as $5 or have their faces painted for $2.

Proceeds from Santa's House will support such programs as St. Luke's College scholarships, Caring Clowns, Comfort Care Blankets and UnityPoint - St. Luke's Miracle Network.

Santa's House has raised more than $350,000 over the past 30 years. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Dec. 7 and 14; 1 to 4 p.m. Dec. 8 and 15; and 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 10, 12, 17 and 19.

THE MOST FESTIVE PLACE IN DOWNTOWN SIOUX CITY

"It's fun knowing that Festival of Trees and Santa's House will be neighbors," Molstad said. "You can visit both at the same time."

This, he said, doubles the chances for photo ops.

"A lot of families use Festival of Trees as a backdrop for their Christmas cards," Molstad added. "You couldn't find a more festive place to be."

Wow, a place to bid on a tree, take your holiday pix, plus an opportunity to butter up a red-suited man with a bag, all in one place. Talk about your Christmas miracles.

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