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Nov 22, 2015 9:38 PM

A fundraiser with a special twist on Christmas

CONCORD - Minions, ugly sweaters and even cans of tennis balls can all become Christmas ornaments in the right hands as the Festival of Trees demonstrates at the Bektash Shriners.

The Festival of Trees celebrates its 15th year this year -- and 15 years ago, the event was not an easy sell.

“It was a very difficult thing to start,” said Ted Dooley who is the past president of the Concord Bektash Shriners. “I tried to explain what we are doing and they look at me like I had two heads. You know you say: I’m gonna do a festival of trees. 'You’re going to do a what? Why would you want to do that?'”

Since then, the festival has grown significantly. During the week, about 7,000 people attend to see more than 100 trees on display. Some are classical Christmas trees but others are a bit different. Still all celebrate the creative spirit of the season.

“Even the Scrooge himself cannot leave the festival of trees without being in the Christmas spirit” said one of the Shriners.

For some it was their first time seeing the trees “It’s beautiful, the trees are absolutely beautiful” said Candice Marsolais of Barrington.

Others have been coming since the very beginning “I come every year” said Kim Crete of Auburn. She and and her husband Don come back two, maybe three times during the week.

People are also able to buy raffle tickets and place them in tubes in front of the tree in hopes of winning the tree to decorate their own homes -- along with whatever goodies are placed underneath. The money raised helps to support the Shriners, a wold-wide organization that helps to fund children's hospital visits and procedures.

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