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Festival of Trees brightens the season

Next week is Thanksgiving, so cue the Hiawatha Homes Festival of Trees.

This will be the 29th year for the annual Thanksgiving week treat, which opens with a gala event Tuesday and runs through Nov. 30.

Mayo Civic Center's exhibit hall will be a holiday garden of Christmas trees,all designed by local decorators. There will be live music, a holiday gift shop, a cafe stocked with Christmas treats, kids activities and other special events.

Here's a rundown of what to expect:

— The Opening Night Galais your first chance to get a look at all the decorated trees. The evening includes dining, and silent and live auctions. Tickets are $50, and can be reserved at 507-289-8683.

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Senior Citizens Silver Bells Luncheon and style show,Wednesday. Seniors will receive a complimentary bowl of soup while listening to live entertainment, followed by dessert and a senior style show. Lunch is at 11:30 a.m., style show at 12:30 p.m.

Children's games and crafts,11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday. Last year, 700 children took part in carnival games, balloon creations, crafts, a bouncy tiger and dance music. More activities are in store this year. Plus, Santawill be there to talk to kids and pose for pictures. There is an additional charge for this event.

Friday night dance party,7 p.m. to 9 p.m. There will be dancing among the trees for people with disabilities and their friends and families.

Candyland Family Activities,11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Visitors can decorate gingerbread cookies, stroll through the Lollipop Woods and visit the Candy Castle.

Santa's Cozy Corneris open from 11 a.m to 4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.

— The silent auctionis open daily, closing at 3 p.m. Nov. 30.

Gift Thyme Shoppe,a 3,000-square-foot holiday gift boutique, is open daily.

— The holiday cafeoffers refreshments each day of the festival.

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— The main stagehosts performances by local artists and students throughout the festival.

The idea of the festival, of course, is not just to give all of us something to do at the start of the holiday season. The festival raises funds for the Hiawatha Homes Foundation,which provides services to children, adult and families dealing with development disabilities and other physical and emotional needs.

Family Time: Family events to highlight Festival of Trees

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