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Melha Shrine Center welcomes second annual 'Fez'tival of Trees

Date: 11/28/2012

By Lori Szepelak

SPRINGFIELD — The Melha Shrine Center on Longhill Street has been transformed into a winter wonderland thanks to the efforts of many Melha Shriners and their family members.

Melha Assistant Rabbah William Faust and his wife Debbie spearheaded a committee that decorated three beautifully appointed rooms with 39 trees that were donated by individuals, local organizations and businesses for the second annual Shriners' 'Fez'tival of Trees.

Faust noted in an interview with Reminder Publications that the organization doubled the number of donated trees since its 'Fez'tival fundraiser debuted last year.

"Other Shrine Centers have hosted similar events so we decided to try it," he said. "The event will also bring awareness to the work we do."

Shriners International is a philanthropic fraternity based on fun, fellowship and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief and truth. With approximately 325,000 members in 194 temples (chapters) across the globe, the fraternity is open to men of integrity from all walks of life.

The customized, festive trees will be on display through Dec. 2. Show hours are 4 to 8 p.m. during the week, and on Dec. 1 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Dec. 2 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Trees will be won through a Chinese Auction format. Raffle tickets are $5 for 15 chances. Winners will be determined at the end of the event on Dec. 2 and will be able to take their tree home with them. In addition to the winter wonderland of trees display, a craft fair, entertainment, and refreshments are also offered. Santa Claus will be available for pictures with children on the Saturday and Sunday of the second weekend.

As one meanders through the three rooms of trees a word of caution — take your time examining each tree since there is so much attention to detail on each one. Themes are varied and range from The Three Little Pigs, Toyland and Santa's Workshop, to Disney, Circus with a Purpose and, of course, Frosty. All artificial trees are at least four feet tall with a sturdy base.

For individuals with smaller spaces to decorate, Pam Spear of Southwick spent a two-week period decorating 14 miniature holiday trees in a variety of themes including Halloween, Thanksgiving and, of course, Christmas. A "lottery tree" with $500 worth of lottery tickets is also available to win.

Admission is $2 per person, with no charge for children younger than the age of 12. There is free parking at the 133 Longhill St. site.

All proceeds raised will benefit the Melha Shrine Center to assist the organization in continuing its various activities in the communities in which they live, work, and raise their families, according to Faust.

For more details about the event, contact Faust at 786-1272 or the Melha Shrine Center at 736-3647. For information on the Shriners, visit