It is 11:15 a.m., and Heather Hetterscheid is walking into Heritage Park with a cardboard box full of Christmas tree decorations and lights.She sets up next to a bare tree and gets to work. She only …
It is 11:15 a.m., and Heather Hetterscheid is walking into Heritage Park with a cardboard box full of Christmas tree decorations and lights.
She sets up next to a bare tree and gets to work. She only has 45 minutes to get the Book Exchange’s tree decorated before the deadline. Judging is set to begin at 1 p.m.
Just down the row of trees, Jayson Kimbrough, co-owner of Walker Hometown Animal Care and Foley’s reigning Christmas Tree Decorating Contest champion, is putting the final touches on this year’s entry. He disappears behind his truck and sorts through items, looking for something. Kimbrough reappears with two faux greenery branches he uses to fill a hole in the provided real Christmas tree.
The theme of the Walker Hometown Animal Care tree is “Grandma Got Runover by a Reindeer.” The tree topper is a reindeer head, and “Grandma” is laying under the tree surrounded by empty eggnog cartons.
Every tree is complete just in time for the judges to stroll along the row. They walk in circles around each decoration entry to see all the details each holds.
The city of Foley began the Christmas Tree Decorating Contest in the early 2000s. Each year, 16 local businesses and organizations participate. The winners are announced during the annual Christmas in the Park event on the first Friday of December each year.
“The trees are purchased locally at Fish River Trees Farm. They are planted inside of their pots and maintained by our parks department throughout the month,” said Sara Harkins, event coordinator for the city of Foley. “They are undecorated, dug up and replanted near the pond at the Foley Sports Complex. Fun for the community, great for the environment.”
Each year, different members of the community are asked to judge the trees on three criteria: originality, creative use of materials and theme. This year’s materials ranged from Avon products and sports equipment to Scrabble tiles. The trees remain in the park until the end of December for residents to view.
Harkins said she looks forward to watching the different businesses and organizations decorate the trees each year.
“It looks like something out of a Hallmark movie. Watching family, friends and co-workers come together and have fun decorating their tree is priceless. It is a real-life Hallmark moment for me,” Harkin said.
The 2022 Foley Christmas Tree Decorating Contest winners are:
• First place - Walker Hometown Animal Care
• Second place - South Baldwin Literacy Council
• Third place - Oak Hill Turf Farm
• Honorable mention - NSDAR Bon Secour Chapter
• Honorable mention - Independent Avon Representative - Leah Wilson
Melanie LeCroy was a judge for the contest this year.