Fantasy of Trees kicks off the Christmas season in Knoxville

This Christmas event raises money to donate to the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital each year.

Fantasy of Trees is an annual event that takes place at the Knoxville Convention Center with a “preview party” occurring the Tuesday night before Thanksgiving. The event officially begins the Wednesday before Thanksgiving running until the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

This event benefits East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, so all of the proceeds will go straight to the hospital.

Fantasy of Trees is a special Christmas event for all ages and includes many different activities like shopping for Christmas presents (even kids can shop for their parents alongside volunteers at the “Secret Santa” station), decorating cookies, personalizing ornaments, looking at the beautiful gingerbread houses and Christmas trees, riding the carousel and driving the cars around “Rudolph’s Raceway.”

There is also a stage for dance studios and entertainment groups to perform on and entertain the audience. On opening night, there is the “Babes in Toyland Parade” at 7 p.m. to kick off this event.

Teen Board member and Fantasy of Trees’ volunteer Allison Montgomery talked about her take on the Christmas event.

“Attending Fantasy of Trees is something I look forward to each year, especially with the beautiful lights and Christmas music,” Montgomery said. “It’s as if I am walking through a winter wonderland.”

The Fantasy of Trees has raised more than $8.5 million in the last 34 years. The money raised has been able to provide the medical equipment for children in the hospital.

In addition to all of the visitors, there are volunteers who collectively put in more than 180,000 hours to bring this holiday event together every single year. Volunteers are able to sign-up on Fantasy of Trees’s website to get the chance to work at different stations involved in the event.

“Knowing that I am involved in volunteering with such an amazing cause is the highlight of my holiday season every year, and I encourage everyone to become involved as well,” Montgomery said.

Jody Cusick is a leadership volunteer at Fantasy of Trees who works each day that the event is up and running, and she is the leader of the same section each year. She talked about the impact the volunteers have on the children and the hospital.

“My favorite part about working with Fantasy of Trees is seeing all of the volunteers that come out to raise money for Children’s Hospital,” Cusick said. “Our volunteers know first hand how fortunate we are to have such a great hospital in our area that caters to the specialized needs of our children.”

Attendees are also able to participate in this event by building and designing their own gingerbread houses to donate to this event, and visitors are able to buy them. Businesses participate by designing and decorating Christmas trees that Fantasy of Trees sells to visitors, and the names of the businesses are on display in front of the designated trees. Attendees can “adopt a tree” that is donated by local schools around Knoxville. Additionally, businesses sponsor the Fantasy of Trees event to help pay for the costs associated with creating this huge event.

“What a great time we have seeing all of the young children’s eyes light up when they come in the door and see all of the beauty and lights,” Cusick said. “It’s truly a magical time of the year.”

This year, Fantasy of Trees will take place from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1.

Edited by Maddie Torres and Ciera Noe

Featured image courtesy of Fantasy of Trees website