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Businesses spring with holiday cheer in the Aiken Festival of Trees

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – If you head over to the Aiken Train Museum this time of year, you’ll see some pretty awesome Christmas trees decorated by our local businesses.

They may be just another holiday decoration, but they’re spreading some much-needed holiday cheer.

People usually go to the museum for, well, trains. But now right now they have a new attraction.

“This year is the largest year we had. We had 18 trees this year, which is great. We never know what we’re going to get and the quality of trees has been absolutely wonderful,” Tourism Coordinator Hampton Wyat said.

It’s called the Festival of Trees, and local businesses and organizations can promote themselves by decorating a tree.

“We even have one woman that comes down from New York. She and her husband come down every year and make sure to come here to see the trees, so it brings in a lot of people and people love them. And it brings some joy to the community,” Wyat said.

The City of Aiken Visitors Center saw more than 1,800 people come through their center last year. Wyat says it’s good for these small businesses to get noticed, especially during the pandemic.

“By having a tree here, they can get their name out and they can gain business, or perhaps it’s an organization where people can come and get help or volunteer,” he said.

Organizations like the Aiken-Barnwell Mental Health Center knows 2020 has been a rough year, so they put encouraging messages on their tree. Or like the Moms League of Aiken that was created to help moms during the pandemic.

“It’s really nice to see all the people come through and light up, and say ‘This one is really great, or this one’s funny, or this one is really beautiful, elegant,’ or ‘Wow, you know this particular group helped my family member in the past. And I’m glad to see them here.’” Wyat said.

Wyat says besides the trains, his favorite part is seeing people light up after the tour.

“It’s a very nice feeling to have such a wide variety and to see everyone come through and be happy with what they see,” he said.

The trees will be at the museum until Jan. 2, and the festival will not be open on Christmas or New Year’s Day.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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