Winterfest Brings In 164 Trees for Third Year

A view of some of the 164 Winterfest Trees at the EP Senior Center at 610 Waterman Ave. CREDIT: Rob Borkowski
A view of some of the 164 Winterfest Trees at the EP Senior Center at 610 Waterman Ave. CREDIT: Rob Borkowski
East Providence's Winterfest at the Senior Center on Waterman Ave. boasted 164 trees and a packed craft fair Saturday, the event's most successful year yet.

Diane Sullivan, co-organizer for Winterfest, said people and businesses sponsor the trees for $25 a piece - which pays for signs with a message, in many cases memorializing a loved one, decorations and lighting. "It's a nice way to kind of remember a loved one," Sullivan said.

On Saturday night, Matthew Campbell of East Providence was there with his girlfriend, Carolyn English to visit a tree he'd sponsored in memory of his father, Eugene. The tree has blue and white lights in honor of his dad's favorite football team, the Dallas Cowboys.

Lisa Justa was also walking among the trees with her daughter Makayla, who had sponsored a tree for Lisa's dad, Richard Holmes.

Inside, Sullivan said the craft fair, which offered jewelry, knit items, accessories, and food from about 30 vendors, went very well. "It was really packed in there," Sullivan said.

Bruce Rogers, who started Winterfest three years ago while he was serving as Mayor (he was mayor from 1980 - 1984 and 2010 till 2012) , said the fair also had face painting and balloon animals for the kids. "We had quite a time," he said. 

Rogers said he borrowed the idea from Pawtucket, where their Winterfest has grown to about 400 trees. 

Rogers said the event more than pays for itself, and they'll be using some left over funds to likely add more inflatable decorations or upgrade their electricity system. The event can currently handle 170 trees, Sullivan said, so if demand continues to grow, they'll need the extra plugs. 

Tom Galligan's students at EP High School added a model of City Hall to a growing collection of city monuments and building replicas this year, Rogers said, joining the EPHS Clock Tower and Carousel models. Eventually, he said, "We hope to have a mini-East Providence set up."


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