Family Time: 'Busy-ness slips away' at Festival of Trees

Light up your holidays at Hiawatha Homes Foundation's Festival of Trees.

Open daily over Thanksgiving weekend, family members of all ages will enjoy an up-close look at the 100-plus beautifully decorated Christmas trees. With names like Wonderful Land of Oz, Penguins on Parade, and Caring for Ewe, the fest offers families a peaceful start to the holidays.

"We have something for the young and the young at heart," said Teresa Thompson, Hiawatha Homes Foundation director of development and communications. "The Festival of Trees is a magical place where families can relax, enjoy themselves and kick off the holidays, together."

In addition to the trees, families will enjoy live entertainment from local singers, dancers, and musicians; photos with Santa; candy treats from the brand new Sweet Shoppe; snacks from the Holiday Cafe, including hot cider, coffee, and cookies; holiday shopping at the Gift Thyme Shoppe; and bidding on silent auction items, including more than 100 baskets and 25 beautifully decorated mini Christmas trees.

"There's really something for everyone," Thompson said. "You arrive, you start looking around and before you know it, the busy-ness of the holidays slips away."


Proceeds from the Festival of Trees benefit Hiawatha Homes. Part of the community since 1976, the nonprofit provides residential, in-home and community-based choices to youth and adults with disabilities.

"We use the funds for a variety of things. It might send a child to summer camp or a group of teens to a water park. It helps pay for communication technology so individuals can Skype their families or for lifts for the van." Thompson said. "The Festival of Trees is a wonderful experience. And the best part is that you can enjoy it with your family and make a difference for people with disabilities all at the same time."

Tickets are available at the door. Adults are $5, kids ages 2 to 12 are $3, and admission is free for kids younger than age 2. Bring your camera for photos with Santa.

Today's the day

Today is First Draw for PAIIR winter semester classes. Parents Are Important In Rochester offers one-time and ongoing morning, afternoon and evening parent-only and parent/child classes (Dad & Me, Infant/Toddler Storytime, Ready for School) to families of children ages birth to kindergarten enrollment. Classes take place at Rochester Public School buildings, including Northrop Education Center, Hoover Elementary and Longfellow Elementary. Registration newsletters available online, . Register online, in-person, by mail, or by phone. Call 507-328-4020 for information on PAIIR's sliding fee scale.

What else?PAIIR also offers online, parent-only winter semester classes. Making the Most of Mealtime and Taming Temper Tantrums are one-time, free online webinars available to parents of children ages birth through kindergarten enrollment. Register online, .



Science Fair

Get your trifold boards out of storage, it's time for the GATEway Science Fair Workshops. Co-sponosred by RCTC Community and Youth Programs, the workshops will be held at the

RCTC Heintz Center Commons from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 3 and from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dec. 7. The free workshops are a great way for students and parents to prep for the upcoming GATEway Science Fair. Information on choosing a science fair project, conducting experiments, and recording and presenting data will be covered. Go online, , to register.

Need to know more?The GATEway Science Fair will be held from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 2212:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., at Mayo Clinic's Gonda Building. Open to students in grades 3 through 6, the cost to participate is $12 per student. Register online, , by Jan. 30 and receive a free T-shirt. Email with questions about financial assistance.


Win, win

Mom and dad get a little "we time" while the kids play, swim and snack at the Rochester Area Family Y's Parent's Day Out. Held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 30, Parent's Day Out is open to kids ages 2 to 12. Participants must be potty-trained. Cost is $20 per child for Y member or $40 for nonmembers. Go online, , for more information. Call 507-287-2260 to save your family's spot.

What's next?Parent's Day Out is just one of the many family-friendly programs the Rochester Area Y offers. Go online to check out Parent's Date Night (5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. the second Friday of the month) and Adventure Days (kids-only day camps held on non-school days).



Holiday crafts

Get your glue and glitter on at Crossings at Carnegie's Holiday Surprises for Tots & All, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 30, 320 East Ave., Zumbrota. Open to toddlers and preschoolers and their favorite big people, participants will explore color and mixed media while creating three holiday ornaments. Cost is $19 plus $5 for supplies. Call 507-732-7616 to save your spot. Go to for more information.

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