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Festival of Trees brings Christmas cheer to Micke Grove

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Posted: Saturday, December 2, 2017 6:30 am

This weekend, the San Joaquin County Historical Museum is ready to celebrate the season.

Christmas carolers, artisans ready to teach candle-dipping and cookie-decorating, and Santa and Mrs. Claus will return to the museum for the 26th annual Festival of Trees.

Vendors will be selling handcrafted gifts, and docents will sell crafts and decor like swags. A variety of local musicians, singers and dancers will entertain throughout the weekend at the Ledbetter Barn, while the Stockton Portsmen will sing carols barbershop-style while wandering the museum’s grounds.

The crafts, entertainment and music make the weekend memorable, but the real centerpiece of the Festival of Trees is, of course, the trees.

This year, more than 60 trees have been decorated by individuals and groups from throughout San Joaquin County, filling the museum’s eight exhibit buildings with holiday spirit.

Here’s a sneak peek of a few of the trees you can see this weekend at the San Joaquin County Historical Museum — but you’ll have to head to Micke Grove to see the rest.

The Breakthrough Project

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BEA AHBECK/NEWS-SENTINEL "Peace Pine", sponsored/designed by the Breakthrough Project, at the Festival of Trees at the San Joaquin County Historical Museum at Micke Grove Regional Park in Lodi Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017. Bea Ahbeck/News-Sentinel

The Breakthrough Project’s tree isn’t your standard Christmas tree, president Lusandra Vincent said.

“It’s a ‘peace pine,” she said.

This is the first year the group — which works to fight prejudice and build connections in Lodi — has participated in the Festival of Trees. Two of the group’s younger members, Oula Miqbel and Lee Kraljev, conceived of the tree idea and gathered many of the decorations, including olive branches, Vincent said.

“They’re both just filled with energy and great ideas,” she said.

Vincent’s daughter folded some of the origami cranes that hang from its branches, and student members of People 2 People International, an organization that promotes peace and builds inter-cultural connections, folded and donated 50 more during the Sandhill Crane Festival.

Olive branches and cranes are both symbols of peace.

“It just came together really beautifully,” Vincent said.

St. Paul Lutheran Bible Group

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BEA AHBECK/NEWS-SENTINEL The "Poinsettia - the Christmas star" tree, sponsored and designed by St. Paul Lutheran Tuesday morning bible group, at the Festival of Trees at the San Joaquin County Historical Museum at Micke Grove Regional Park in Lodi Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017. Bea Ahbeck/News-Sentinel

The Bible group at Lodi’s St. Paul Lutheran Church has been decorating a tree for the festival for close to 20 years now, said Betty Hrovat. After all that time, they still work hard to come up with a creative idea each year.

“Finding ideas is a little hard, so there are a couple of us who are looking all year round,” she said.

This year, they went with a poinsettia theme — the “Christmas star.”

“Pinterest helped a lot,” Hrovat admitted.

Their design is a variation on an idea member Mary Ann Blomgren found, and Jan Flannery came up with a way to connect it to the Scripture, she said.

Even after 20 years, the Bible group still loves planning their festival tree and using it to spread the story of Jesus’ birth.

Hrovat hopes Lodi residents of all ages will come out to the museum this weekend.

“They should come,” she said. “It’s an experience for old and young.”

Tokay A’s 

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BEA AHBECK/NEWS-SENTINEL "Hats off to Ford", the Tokay A's Model A Club's tree at the Festival of Trees at the San Joaquin County Historical Museum at Micke Grove Regional Park in Lodi Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017. Bea Ahbeck/News-Sentinel

For the Tokay A’s, getting involved in the Festival of Trees and supporting the historical museum was only natural. After all, it’s hard to love Model A cars without becoming something of a historian yourself, member Mary Ann Blomgren said.

“If you’re a Tokay A, you believe in the past — a lot,” she said.

The antique Fords were produced in the 1920s and 1930s, so when the members decided to go with the theme “Hats Off to Ford,” they knew they wanted to decorate the tree with old-fashioned hats.

“Besides driving old-time cars, some of the members like the (clothing) of the period,” Blomgren said.

All of the hats, owned by the club’s members, are from the same time period as their beloved cars, or careful reproductions.

The enthusiastic group is happy for the chance to share their love of old cars with Lodi.

“If you have an old car, join the Tokay A’s,” Blomgren said. “Or if you love old cars, join the A’s. Or if you want an old car, join the A’s.”

Lodi AAUW

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BEA AHBECK/NEWS-SENTINEL The American Association of University Women, Lodi branch's Christmas tree, called "Ringing the bells on women's issues" at the Festival of Trees at the San Joaquin County Historical Museum at Micke Grove Regional Park in Lodi Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017. Bea Ahbeck/News-Sentinel

The American Association of University Women has the mission of advocating for women and girls, promoting education and creating leadership opportunities for girls and women.

Their tree this year is themed “Ringing the Bells on Women’s Issues,” and the bells that decorate the branches are labeled with issues like pay equity and reproductive rights.

Along with offering scholarships and hosting educational meetings, the organization frequently meets for book clubs, board games, day trips and dining.

San Joaquin/Stanislaus Cattlewomen

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BEA AHBECK/NEWS-SENTINEL "Beef is best", the tree sponsored by San Joaquin/Stanislaus Cattlewomen, at the Festival of Trees at the San Joaquin County Historical Museum at Micke Grove Regional Park in Lodi Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017. Bea Ahbeck/News-Sentinel

The San Joaquin/Stanislaus Cattlewomen are newcomers to the Festival of Trees.

“This is our first year. I went last year and saw that the Dairy Board was there, and the Women in Agriculture,” secretary Linda Stiehr said.

The group decided to join them, so they could spread the word about beef.

They spent their most recent meeting brainstorming the decor.

Steihr’s black cowboy hat graces the top of the tree, and the skirt is a tablecloth the club uses during dinner events.

“One of our ladies did the garland, which is a 50-foot piece of rope,” Stiehr said. “We have a little (wooden) calf there that shows the cuts of beef on it.”

The California Cattlewomen and their member organizations work to promote beef, and the festival gives them the chance to reach more people, Stiehr said.

Swedish-American Youth Group

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BEA AHBECK/NEWS-SENTINEL The Christmas tree decorated by the Swedish- American youth group is displayed in Santa' Village as staff and volunteers get ready for this weekend's Festival of Trees at the San Joaquin County Historical Museum at Micke Grove Regional Park in Lodi Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017. Bea Ahbeck/News-Sentinel

This year, the Swedish-American Youth Group is decorating a tree for the Festival of Trees — and serving up some of the entertainment.

On Sunday, the group will host a St. Lucia Pageant at the museum. St. Lucia is one of the few saints honored in primarily Lutheran Scandinavia, and her celebration is a popular one.

Traditionally, the holiday is celebrated with a procession led by a girl chosen to represent Lucia and her “maids.” They sing traditional songs and hand out holiday treats.

The youth group’s tree at the San Joaquin County Historical Museum is decorated with Scandinavian flags, traditional straw ornaments, miniature Dala horses, and ornaments representing St. Lucia.

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