BURLINGTON — Inspired by everything from the sea and natural world to Santa, teams decorated Christmas trees Saturday at Christ the King Church for the 31st annual Skagit Valley Hospital Foundation Festival of Trees.

Foundation executive director Linda Frizzell said the fundraiser will help the foundation fulfill a $2 million pledge for the new Women’s Imaging Center at Skagit Regional Health to help with early detection of breast cancer.

Last year, the Festival of Trees, which includes a gala, auction and Breakfast with Santa, raised more than $350,000, she said.

The Festival of Trees will be open to the public from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1. Admission is $5.

For the 30 teams selected to design trees, preparations start early.

Ria Peth has designed more than 15 trees over 10 years, and said she started collecting materials two years in advance. Her team’s tree topper is a birdcage she found at an antique store.

“This is a great way for me to get my creativity out and donate to a great cause,” she said.

The tree designed by Melissa Kingma and her team highlights the sea, and teammates focused on salvaging materials, such as driftwood from the beach.

“That’s what is cool about it because we were able to reuse (materials),” said teammate Stacey Lyons.

She said many businesses and community groups donated decorations, and the Burlington-Edison High School welding class created a fireplace for the tree display.

Tami Sutter, who has been designing trees for the festival for nine years, chose a Moroccan-inspired tree this year with hand-painted ornaments and mirrors.

“We wanted something colorful,” she said.

— Reporter Jacqueline Allison: jallison@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2145, Twitter: @Jacqueline_SVH

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