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Media inquiries: Please contact Julie Buchanan, julie.buchanan@dcr.virginia.gov, 804-786-2292.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: October 31, 2012
Contact: Jim Meisner Jr., DCR Public Relations Specialist, (804) 786-8442, jim.meisner@dcr.virginia.gov

Celebrate the Holidays with the Southwest Virginia Museum's 17th Annual Festival of Trees

Additional contact: Aaron Davis, Chief Ranger-Interpreter
276-523-1322

The Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park hosts the 17th Annual Festival of Trees Nov. 11 to Dec 31. Community creativity and involvement are highlighted during the festival when all four floors of the museum's Victorian-era building are lavishly decorated for the holiday season.

"The tradition of the Festival of Trees began as a way to celebrate the holiday traditions of the Victorian era as well as to honor the role that C. Bascom Slemp played in establishing the American tradition of a national Christmas tree," said Park Manager Sharon Ewing.

Slemp served as the personal secretary to President Calvin Coolidge and was the driving force behind establishing the museum. In 1923, a group from the Electrical League and the Washington, D.C., public schools approached Slemp with the suggestion that a Christmas tree be erected on the White House lawn. Slemp took the idea to First Lady Grace Coolidge, who recommended that the tree be placed on the ellipse south of the White House, and a tradition was born.

"Volunteers from around the Southwest Virginia region continue to put up holiday trees and decorate mantels, doorways and banisters throughout the museum in the spirit of the holiday," Ewing said. "This year, 80 groups will give their time and talent to create truly beautiful displays."

Visitors can tour the Festival of Trees during regular museum hours and during special "night viewings" every Saturday evening in December.

Admission is $4 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-12, and free for children under 6. Group rates are available for parties of 10 or more.

For more information, contact the Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park at 276-523-1322.

For more information about Virginia State Park activities and amenities or to make reservations for one of more than 1,800 campsites or 300 climate-controlled cabins, call the Virginia State Parks Reservation Center at 800-933-PARK or visit www.virginiastateparks.gov

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