METHUEN -- As they say in the theater, "the show must go on," 

This year's 27th annual Festival of Trees is no different.

Just as COVID-19 has changed many events, so too has it changed the annual event and fundraiser.

Instead of heading over to 13 Branch St. to admire the holiday decorations, viewers can go online to look at the creations of area artisans.

They can also drive through Greycourt State Park at 37 Pleasant St. and admire the trees decorated by volunteers.

Events began Saturday, Nov. 21 and will last to varying dates in December.

The Festival of Trees at Greycourt State Park will open on Friday, Nov. 27 and run through Sunday, Dec. 20.

"We are excited to announce a special edition of the Festival of Trees at Greycourt State Park," organizers posted on the group's website, "In a year when so many of our holiday traditions won’t be happening, our goal is to bring a drive-thru festival of trees and lights to our community. Methuen residents may remember the days when the former Tenney Castle was beautifully decorated for Christmas. Although the castle is long gone, the remnants will be decorated as a reminder of this wonderful time in Methuen history."

Also, rather than physically visiting to view trees decorated by donors, residents will be able to view them on the festival's website and other social media platforms. Raffles will be held and winners will be able to take home the decorated trees. 

The virtual Festival of Trees opened on Saturday and will run through Saturday, Dec. 5. 

The online auction will offer tickets for sporting events and entertainment, celebrity autographed memorabilia, hotel getaway accommodations, skydiving and private plane tours, unique holiday gifts, and other unique experiences, according to organizers.

The auction opened on Saturday and will close on Sunday, Dec. 6.

Meanwhile, the raffle continues as usual, although residents won't be able to pick up tickets at Center Court this year. Instead they will be available online starting Saturday, Nov. 21 through Sunday, Dec. 20. The winner takes home $10,000. The tickets cost $5 for 1;, $10 for 6; and $20 for 26 tickets.

The money raised by the Festival of Trees goes toward preservation projects in the Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire including places like Winnikenni Castle in Haverhill, the Walled City of Methuen, Stevens Library in North Andover, Salem Train Depot, Holy Rosary Church in Lawrence and Andover Historical Society, to name just a few.



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