Deck The Trees announces first round of decoration contest winners

Ty Roush
Black Mountain News
Black Mountain Fire Department's tree features carved wooden stars inscribed with the names of firefighters and a 3D manger scene.

Deck The Trees has announced its winners best suiting the "And A Star Appeared" theme.

Black Mountain Beautification Committee and Sassafras on Sutton are the Monte Vista Hotel and community winners, respectively. Black Mountain Fire Department and Kilwin's Black Mountain are the respective runners-up.

Girl Scout Troop 02498 is the honorable mention for trees at Monte Vista Hotel and is the winner of most heartwarming.

"More than once I had goosebumps as I was so incredibly touched by the artistry, the stories being told through the trees and the overall impact on my heart," judge Sheri Kay said. "I'm already looking forward to next year."

Judges scored each tree based on seven criteria: visual impact, heartwarming, unique or one of a kind, creativity, best interpretation of the theme, memorable and meaningful and storytelling.

Now in its 10th year, Deck The Trees featured 15 trees in the Monte Vista lobby and 20 trees inside downtown businesses. The event benefits the Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry Fuel Fund, a charity that covers the cost of electricity and heating for locals during winter.

The fundraiser has raised $115,000 through nine years, including a record $35,000 in 2019.

Separate from a judging panel voting on a winner most representative of the year's theme, residents were able to vote on their favorite tree in person or online by placing a dollar inside collection boxes in front of each tree. In-person and online voting concluded Jan. 3, with winners to be announced the following week.

Libba Fairleigh, who has worked with the fundraiser since its second year, says the event's committee was looking forward to all of downtown being decorated for Christmas.

"The whole idea for Black Mountain is, wherever you go, there's going to be Christmas trees," Fairleigh said. "There's going to be much-needed light everywhere."

Fairleigh said she was impressed by this year's listing of trees.

Black Mountain Beautification Committee's tree features stars woven from rolls of toilet paper.

Kate Ramsey, a member of the Black Mountain Beautification Committee, said the committee's tree was inspired by Disney's "When You Wish Upon a Star." During a brainstorming meeting to discuss the committee's tree, Ramsey "loved to watch the process sort of swirl down to a point."

"And when somebody said that, we could just feel the energy," Ramsey said. "Everybody went to work."

The committee's tree is decorated by toilet paper and toilet paper rolls weaved into stars and snowflakes.

This year's judge panel was Mark Kleive, a sponsor of the event since 2016. "Team Kleive" is represented by his wife, Nicki Groves, Anne DeGennaro and Kay.

DeGennaro noted that she "really enjoyed the subtle touches on the tree at the Swannanoa Valley Museum." Complementing the museum's tree, "the trees are beautiful and especially hope-inspiring this year."