Tommy Mann Jr.
The Orange Leader
Shangri La is always a wondrous place to visit, but most especially during the holiday season.
Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, arguably one of the most amazing places to visit and see nature in all its glory in region, is busy preparing for the approaching holiday season as the multi-color flowers transition to colorful lights.
Shangri La will hold its third annual Christmas Tree Decorating Contest in December. Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place trees, as well as a “Best of Show” award. School groups, church groups, civic organizations, businesses, families and individuals may compete in the contest.
According to information provided by Michael Hoke, managing director of the facility, Shangri La will provide participants with a seven foot tall live tree and eight strands of white LED lights and a tree strand.
Christmas tree decorations to be used should be created using recycled materials as much as possible. Although not a requirement, it is encouraged. However, rubber, plastic or store-bought masks are not allowed.
The tree must be maintained throughout the event. Trees will be available for decoration between 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 1, and Monday, Dec. 3. An official entry form is due no later than 5 p.m., Monday, Nov. 26.
Guests will be able to vote for trees between Monday, Dec. 3 and Thursday, Dec. 20. Winners will be announced Friday, Dec. 21.
Hoke said the plan is to have as much of the main garden filled with Christmas Trees and lights as possible.
“Last year, public spirited groups decorated 20 trees,” Hoke said in a statement. “This year we would like to decorate 40 trees. This will allow us to decorate Shangri La all the way to the Pond of the Blue Moon and make this a truly regional event.”
The public will be able to view these amazingly decorated trees during the Christmas Strolls at Shangri La, which will be held at 6 p.m., on Thursday, Dec. 6; Saturday, Dec. 8; Tuesday, Dec. 11; Thursday, Dec. 13; Saturday, Dec. 15; Tuesday, Dec. 18; Thursday, Dec. 20; and Saturday, Dec. 22.
Entry to these events are donations of canned goods, which Shangri La in turn donates to Orange Christian Services (OCS).
Hoke stated approximately 12,000 pounds of food has been donated to OCS over the past three years, and he hopes to make 2012 a year to remember with the largest donation yet.
Visit www.shangrilagardens.org for more information.