Santa gets some hugs from Lily, 7, Madilyn, 2 and Emillie, 4, the Chandler sisters of Blue Bell, at the Lu Lu Shriners FEZtival of Trees and Lights last weekend. The family-friendly event continues this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Shrine Center, 5140 Butler Pike, Plymouth Meeting. (Photo by Barbara Sherf)

by Barbara Sherf

Volunteers with the Lu Lu Shriners of Plymouth Meeting are holding a second weekend of The FEZtival of Trees & Lights at their Shrine Center, 5140 Butler Pike, this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Three-dozen businesses and non-profits donated and decorated trees that reflect the values, colors and theme of the organization. Shriners Hospitals for Children donated and decorated two of the trees.

In addition to voting by raffle for the top three trees, there are activities such as photos (adults, pets and children) with Santa Claus, horse and tractor-drawn sleigh rides, holiday music, food and a vendor marketplace. FEZtival Chairman Roy Knauth said FEZtivals have been produced successfully in three other Shrine Centers in the New England area.

“It just seemed like a win-win for the sponsors, vendors and the public to get in the holiday spirit for a good cause,” said Knauth. “The organizations have gotten very creative and competitive as the top three ticket recipients will get bragging rights and special plaques noting their accomplishment. But really all participants are winners in helping us raise funds for our organization.”

For those not familiar with it, the Fez was introduced into the Balkans initially during the Byzantine reign and subsequently during the Ottoman period, where various Slavs started wearing the headwear. The headgear became official for the Shriners in 1872. At $5 per adult and children under 12 admitted for free, Knauth said he would be happy if the Shriners broke even this first year.

“This is more about raising awareness concerning what we do as an organization and introducing the public to our other fundraisers and a facility that is available for rentals. If we make a little money, that would be great and would allow us to continue on with our mission,” said Bucks County resident. “If we could get a few new members to the organization, that would be even better.”

The Girl Scouts of Eastern PA came on board early on in the process. Girl Scouts representative Kristen Kucharski and her sister, Kay Bryant, a vendor who has beautiful handmade bags, jackets and jewelry in the Marketplace, decorated the scouts’ tree with a mannequin and fluffy tree skirt.

“We like to get creative, and this was the perfect opportunity,” said Kucharski, a graphic designer. “We are always looking for a little exposure and to do community service projects. Ultimately, the money raised for this organization benefits Shriners Hospital for Children, and we wanted to be a part of that.”

Brian Lupo, general manager of Phil’s Tavern in Blue Bell, sponsored a tree. He visited with his son Nicholas, 9, and daughter Callie, 10. “It was fun to take a break and decorate the tree with several co-workers. This has been the direction of Phil’s for over 25 years; to support local charities and maybe even win one of these lovely trees,” said Lupo, a Plymouth Meeting resident.

Adam and Amanda Wilson of Ambler came with their three girls to see the trees and also get their holiday photo taken with Santa. “This beats the mall and standing in line. We come for the circus and the monster trucks and the rodeo and this is a nice addition to the family-friendly activities the Shriners offer,” said Amanda.

The Lu Lu Shriners mission is to raise money for and awareness about Shriners Hospitals for Children. For more information, go to the Lu Lu News page at www.lulushriners.org or call 610-828-9050.

Flourtown resident and storyteller Barbara Sherf will be appearing in Tellabration this Saturday in Chestnut Hill. For more information and advance tickets, go to www.patchworkstorytelling.org.

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