The holidays came early this year in Flagler County — or at least, its Festival of Trees did.
The event was held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 18 at the Palm Coast main branch of Flagler County's library. They hosted the Palm Coast United Methodist Church's handbell choir and a local performing family group, the Sunshine Mafia. The two groups played Christmas tunes for the crowd.
While most of the crowd sat enraptured by the performances, Christmas trees decorated the library. Over forty trees were decorated for the event by local community organizations, including the Post 115 American Legion, the Flagler County Sheriff's Office, Community Cats of Palm Coast, several churches and veterans organizations and more.
The staff dimmed the lights throughout the performances and and turned on the tree lights instead — the room was backdropped by its own winter forest between the book stacks.
“We feature many trees that are decorated by local non-profit organizations, and we wanted to make sure everyone has ample time to come in and see them,” Library Director Holly Albanese said in a press release earlier in the week. “This annual tradition – sponsored by both the Library and the Friends of the Library – is a favorite.”
Mary Jennings directed the handbell choir, while the performers stood should to shoulder and rang out familiar Christmas tunes like "Silent Night," "Amazing Grace."
Jennings invited the crowd to come out play with their choir at any of their normal meet ups. Handbell, she said, is a dying art they are trying to preserve.
"We're trying to keep [the handbell choir] alive," Jennings said. "It's a ministry."
The Sunshine Mafia is a local Palm Coast family who also happens to have 698,000 subscribers on YouTube. The family uses their channels and performances to spread sunshine.
"We're all about spreading sunshine," Rachel Mills said. "Life is too short to let somebody steal your joy."
The group performed loved Christmas carols to the crowd, pulling people out of their seats to join them in dancing and creating a conga line of around the room.
Visitors could also take a trip and see Santa and Mrs. Claus at the event. The two, played by Joseph and Di Pepin, listened carefully to each child that came up to see see them, handing out candy canes to every one.
The "Holly" Day Festival of Trees was held a little early this year because Thanksgiving happens to fall on the last Thursday of the month, according to an earlier press release from the Flagler County Public Library.