By Maclaine Willett, Assistant News Editor

For years, the Nantucket Historical Association has held an event at the Whaling Museum to help the community get into the holiday spirit. The Festival of Trees is an extravagant event where a wide variety of people throughout the community, from nonprofit organizations to artists and children, create beautiful and unique Christmas tree designs to fill the museum. The event sparks holiday spirit and tradition every year, thanks to the talented decorators and generous sponsors within the community. As many will say from personal experience, the Festival of Trees is an event that one does not want to miss. 

But as the pandemic continued and the cases rose from the Thanksgiving holiday, the Nantucket Historical Association made the decision, on December 7, to prevent any further spread of the virus and make the Festival of Trees online for the time being. As of now, the plan is to extend the festival until Valentine’s Day in hopes of a possible decline in the spread of the virus after the winter holidays, which would allow for the NHA to put together an in-person Festival of Trees. Although it is disappointing to many who wished to view all of the fifty-three trees in the normal fashion, the Nantucket Historical Association wants to take an abundance of caution when considering this holiday event during the pandemic.

But, the event is now available online for those who wish to see it prior to the tentative opening later on in the new year. The video, which can be seen on the Nantucket Historical Association website, shows a montage of the various rooms and highlights of each of them. The three-minute-long preview of the festival is a great way to get a taste of the 2020 Festival of Trees prior to the Christmas holiday to help keep the holiday spirit alive. There is another aspect of the video that is worth the watch; viewers are able to see the decorators working on their trees. They were doing so safely, with masks and distancing, and it provides a look into the immense amount of work that goes into putting the event together. 

The Festival of Trees allows for people in the community, businesses, or just individuals, to get creative and show off their talented work. Businesses that are new to the festival even made an appearance this year, such as Pi Pizzeria that decorated a tree that can be seen in the virtual show. There are also trees that are decorated by the children in the community, which are a great way for the children to show off their creativity. Along with the heartwarming work of the children, there are also sleek, modern tree designs that make an appearance. Overall, the wide range of designs and styles of artwork is a special part of the Festival of Trees.

Of course, credit must be given where it’s due, and this is to the sponsors of the show. Some of the sponsors include Bartlett’s Farm, Nantucket Golf Club, Steamship Authority, and Botticelli and Pohl . The lead sponsor of the event is Marine Home Center, whose generosity, among the other sponsors as well, was a key factor in the ability to hold the Festival of Trees. Also, these sponsors within the community helped to make the festival free admission for anyone who wished to come into the museum and see the trees, prior to the change to the online format. But, this seems to be the system that continues if the festival is able to open in-person. The two others that must be recognized are the 2019-2020 Festival of Trees Chairs, Lauren and Neil Marttila. Without their help as well, the festival would not have been possible. The last portion of the credit is given to the creators of the artworks and decorators of the trees, who really show off their holiday spirit through their festive designs.

Although it was altered to an online format to help stay safe during the pandemic, the Festival of Trees at the Nantucket Whaling Museum is an event that keeps the holiday spirits alive. Thanks to the many creators and sponsors throughout the community, the festival is able to showcase fifty three beautifully decorated trees in the different sections of the museum. Even though it is not clear when the Nantucket Historical Association will be offering in-house admissions to the show, their decision to continue the festival until February 14th hopefully allows for this to be possible following this recent spike of Covid-19 cases on the island. A brief look at the decorations can be seen on the Nantucket Historical Association website, where they posted a quick video of some of the trees to give viewers a taste of the festival while it is still unsafe to hold the event in the museum. The Festival of Trees on Nantucket is an event like no other, and the Nantucket Historical Association and the decorators of the trees hope for the ability to hold the festival in the museum so the community can view the creative work showcased inside to hold onto a bit of that holiday spirit that is so desperately needed during these uncertain times.

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