Mother Nature provided a postcard-like setting Dec. 7 as snow fell softly on the caroling choir and the lighted decorations on Main Street during Elizabeth's inaugural tree auction, held to usher in the holiday season and benefit charity.
On the auction block were 20 Christmas trees. The trees were purchased from Kiowa 4-H by businessman Tim Craft for $50 each, and then 20 businesses and individuals paid the same price for the trees and decorated them. The decorations were each sponsor's choice, and some had a special theme like a tribute to the military or a tribute to pets.
The trees were set up along Main Street until the night of the auction, when they were assembled in front of Briarwood Vintage and on the adjacent patio. On Dec. 7, the lights on the trees were turned on when it got dark and members of the Elizabeth High School Choir braved the snow and cold to gather on the patio and sing songs of the holiday season.
After the concert each tree was designated for auction. Each time a tree was sold, the purchase price of the tree was designated as a donation to the charity of the buyer's choice.
The buyer could take the tree home or donate it to be given to a needy family. About half the buyers opted to have needy families become owners of the trees they purchased.
Tree auction organizers kept in mind that no holiday celebration is complete without an opportunity for children to visit with Santa. So on Dec. 7, Santa set up shop in Briarwood Vintage. Families came in, the children visited with Santa to talk about their Christmas lists, and a local photographer took pictures of the visits.
“This was an amazing event,” Elbert County Commissioner Chris Richardson said of the tree auction. “It was chilly but I think the falling snow added to the festive atmosphere. About 50 people attended the auction and the bidders were very generous.”
He said Elizabeth is a giving community, with residents who step up when they hear about someone in need or an event like the tree auction that supports a variety of good causes.
Shawn Strain agreed. Strain, a co-founder of the tree auction, said the event raised more than $4,000, with donations designated to 14 different charities. Charities designated included veterans organizations and organizations helping animals like the Denver Dumb Friends League. One donation went to support the Elbert County 4-H shooting program.
Holding events on Main Street to usher in the holiday season is new this year and was the brainchild of the team of Strain and Tamara Cribley.
“We are good friends and talked over possible events to bring the community together and give something back to our town,” Cribley said. “Elizabeth held community tree lightings in the past but this year we held it on Main Street. The weather was nice and we had about 500 people. We also came up with the tree auction as a way to continue the holiday theme while providing funds for a number of charities.”
Strain said he didn't know what to expect with the tree auction.
“I am overwhelmed by how it turned out. It was a great event thanks to all those who helped put it on and particular thanks to all those who were so generous in their support,” he said. “It was a great event for our community and some of those attending are already suggesting other things we can do at next year's tree auction.”
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