The third annual Las Cruces Festival of Trees was a wondrous occasion for families as they strolled through a dazzling display of decorated Christmas trees. More than fifty trees were decorated by local businesses, clubs, and nonprofit organizations in the community for all to enjoy.

Guests of the Festival of Trees purchased raffle tickets for their favorite trees, voted in the decorating contest and participated in other festive activities, including a gingerbread exhibit, pictures with Santa, live holiday entertainment by local artists, a holiday wares fair and children’s crafts.  

The Las Cruces Festival of Trees was hosted at the Centennial High School Performing Arts Lab. Funds from the event benefitted participating local nonprofits. The Las Cruces Festival of Trees was founded in 2016 as a fundraiser for Centennial High School STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programs. Melody Hagaman, Centennial’s Science Olympiad coach, got the idea from a similar festival that was held in her home town of Silver City, New Mexico.

“I think this year is our biggest and best year yet,” Hagaman said. “It’s been amazing to see what the clubs and classes at Centennial and the community members have come up with, and it’s great that it’s our third year. We have some decorators who have returned since the first year, and every year they kind of out-do themselves. So, it’s really spectacular. We have amazing gingerbread structures and I’m just really impressed with how everyone has come together to consistently up the quality.”

During the event, community members toured through decorated isles of twinkling lights and icicles that hung from the ceiling as classical Christmas music filled the room. Attendees purchased raffle tickets for a chance to win their favorite, uniquely-decorated tree.

“The Festival of Trees is a great way to raise money while bringing people together for the holidays,” said Greg Ewing, Superintendent of Las Cruces Public Schools. “I don’t think I could ever pick a favorite tree; each of them were decorated beautifully. It’s clear that all of the participants put a lot of thought into these trees. This event not only benefits the student programs at Centennial, but so many other worthy organizations throughout our city.”

Each tree was designed in a unique way to reflect a certain theme. Members of the theater club, for instance, decorated their tree to represent critically-acclaimed Broadway musicals and performances. Diego Gomez, a senior at Centennial High School, used his 3D-printer at home to design each ornament that hung on their tree. To design the ornaments, the temperature for his 3D printer had to reach 200 degrees Celsius, he said, and most of the ornaments took more than 20 hours to create. The ornaments included a dagger to represent “Romeo and Juliet,” a lamp from “Aladdin,” the iconic lips from the “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” a lion to represent “The Lion King,” and the masks of comedy and tragedy.

“Every class, every group, has their own theme — and that’s really what sets everyone’s apart from each other,” Gomez said. “You can see there’s different trees, and they all represent what makes us unique.”

The Las Cruces Festival of Trees also hosted several special promotions, including a discount day for senior citizens and one for LCPS students and staff. The Teddy Bear Tea is a growing tradition, which takes place on Saturday morning before the festival opens, and features a tea party, story time, activities, and Santa time for young children and their families.

— Samantha Lewis, LCPS Public Relations Coordinator, 575-527-5946, slewis@lcps.net