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Winter Texan of the Week: Sandy Ivey

Sandy Ivey, right, shares some holiday joy with Lolly Naslund, a member of the Restful Festival of Trees Committee. 

Winter Texas from Illinois Helps Create New Holiday Tradition

by Rocio Villalobos

This year, Sandy Ivey brought a piece of Illinois to Mission’s Restful Valley Ranch. Up in her home state, they have a wintertime tradition, Festival of Trees, and Ivey volunteered at the event for decades.

But for the last eight years, the RGV has been her second home. So instead of missing the festival from afar, Ivey committed to creating a Restful Festival of Trees benefitting the park. To help bring the vision to life, she got right to work forming a committee. Through park funds, they were able to purchase 19 small, artificial Christmas trees, and residents donated the decorations.

“We had a lot of ornaments and things that were donated, so we laid them all out on the tables and decided what type of theme we were going to do with each tree,” Ivey said. “We spent two days decorating the trees, and then we had people come up to bid on them in a silent auction.

In just over a week that the trees were on display, they raised $870, which will go into the general park fund to help with maintenance and activities. The committee also helped get word of the auction out on social media, which drew Winter and Converted Texans from neighboring parks.

“It was so successful, we even had a couple of bidding wars going on,” Ivey said.

Among the most popular was a snowman tree. And beyond giving the park a boost, Ivey said residents got to enjoy themselves and were delighted to help spread some extra holiday spirit.

“People had so much fun,” she said. “I think, each year, we’ll take baby steps and decide new things to add. You can really get carried away with it.”

One idea she has is to add descriptions and create memory trees in honor of late Restful Valley Residents.

“That’s one of the things back home that I know is so touching to everybody to get to read some of the stories,” Ivey said. “People can write about why they went in a certain direction with their theme--how they came up with it, what the purpose is, and even just giving it a name.”

For 2022, they plan to add wreaths, as well as more trees, and keep the auction open for a longer period, beginning in late November.

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