Festival of Trees
Mayor Michael Cherepko and the McKeesport Recreation Board will present the 2021 Festival of Trees from noon to 9 p.m. on Thursday, December 2, through Monday, December 6, in the Jacob Woll (Main) Pavilion in Renziehausen Park. This year's event is sponsored by Pennsylvania American Water.
Each year, Mayor Cherepko describes the Festival of Trees as a great way to spread holiday cheer while being active in the McKeesport community.
“The Festival of Trees is a beautiful event,” Cherepko said. “Not only does it bring McKeesporters together in celebration of the holiday spirit, but it allows each of our local organizations, student clubs, churches, and other participating groups to share their mission and creativity with our community.”
Concessions, prepared by Auberle's culinary students, will include a variety of soups, sandwiches, hot cocoa, and more. Hot food will be served from 4-7 p.m. with additional snacks available throughout the day.
Hayrides will take place on Thursday, Friday, and Monday from 4-8 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 2-8 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to head across the park to the McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center on Thursday through Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. and the Garden Club of McKeesport's Holiday Sale on Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
2021 Festival of Trees - Tree Listing
Sponsored by PA American Water
1. Striffler Family Funeral Homes, “Celebration of Life” –This tree is a tribute to all loved ones who have passed. Whether recently or many years ago, your loved one will always remain a part of your life. Whether that loved one was your spouse, child, parent, grandparent, sibling, grandchild, cousin, aunt, uncle, companion, or friend, a loss is never easy and the time you spent together is never forgotten. Celebrate and cherish your loved ones’ lives.
2. Striffler Family Funeral Homes, “Beloved Pet Services” – This tree is a tribute to all our furry friends who have passed. Our fur-babies are part of our families, and the time we spend together is never forgotten.
3.White Oak Animal Safe Haven, “W.O.A.S.H.” – WOASH is a no-kill shelter that provides medical care and good homes for homeless animals. Come visit us, we may have your new best friend.
4. Saints Joachim and Anne Parish, “The Jesse Tree” – This traditional Jesse tree will feature additional apple ornaments. A Jesse tree is a way of preparing for advent by journeying through the story of Jesus’ family tree. On each day of advent, a bible story is read and an ornament is placed on the tree to symbolize that story.
5. Business and Professional Women’s Club of McKeesport, “Be the Change You Wish to See in the World” – The McKeesport Chapter of BPW is part of the Pennsylvania BPW and the State President’s theme is “Be the Change You Wish to See in the World.” Many of the organization’s fundraising, speaker series, and activities throughout the year are a reflection of the theme. The group chose butterflies to reflect the many beautiful transformations that change can bring. Members participated in creating original or embellishing purchased butterflies.
6. Park Baptist Church, “Honoring Those Who Served” – This tree stands seven feet tall and has three sections with lights shining in Red, White, and Blue. The tree topper is made of a spray of white lights and four American flags. This patriotic theme shows the church’s respect and appreciation for all veterans and their families. To the men and women who sacrifice their time, energy, and lives to protect all of us and our freedom, a “thank you” just isn’t enough. You are very much appreciated, and we are so grateful for your service – praying for safety and peace.
7. Garden Club of McKeesport, “Sugar and Spice and Everything Sweet” – Decorated with sugar and spice, these ornaments are handmade with cinnamon salt dough, representing the spice, and decorated with icing and sparkles. Candies represent the sweets of the season. The gingerbread reminds us of cookies baked for the holidays. The tree-topper is handmade with foam and sweets. The holidays are a special time when scents and aromas bring back the memories of holiday traditions and new ones are created.
8. PurePenn and Trulieve, “Trulieving” – Demonstrating the magic of the holiday season, this tree features a collection of toys that children can take as a trinket of cheer for the McKeesport community.
9. Faith Lutheran Church, “By Any Other Name” – This tree is adorned with ornaments, made by members of Faith Lutheran Church, illustrating various names for Jesus taken from the Old Testament.
10. McKeesport Little Tigers, “Make Memories” – The Little Tigers are more than just football and cheerleading – they make memories that last a lifetime, just like having an extended family of great friends. Pictures on this tree are from the memories the McKeesport Little Tigers family has made over the years.
11. Alliance Christian Child Care, “Candy Cane Christmas” – It’s a Candy Cane Christmas at Alliance Christian Child Care! Each of the center’s children – from nursery babies to the preschool class – made their own personalized candy cane. Each child picked their colors and put their beads on pipe cleaners along with their names. The teachers helped if a child was too young or needed assistance. The children had lots of fun making their candy canes and putting a special design.
12. Transitions Health Care, LLC, “Letters to Santa” – Each year children write hopeful letters to the big man in red – sharing their wants and wishes in the most loving way. Transitions Health Care staff believe their residents should experience similar feelings of hope and love – not just during the holidays, but in their everyday lives. This tree is decorated with ribbons, cards, and rolled letters to Santa Claus.
13. Joyful Bloomers Garden Club, “Mums the Word” – “Mums the Word” is the theme of the Joyful Bloomers’ 2021 yearbook! Choosing this theme for the Festival of Trees also, they fashioned party hats into a conical shape and filled them with white and yellow mums, Christmas greenery, and multicolored ribbon trim. Red mesh garland and the green sparkling branch tree-topper complete the festive look. The yellow mum is the Joyful Bloomer’s distinctive flower. “We were all good girls this year, but if not, don’t tell Santa. Remember, Mum’s the Word!”
14. McKeesport Lions Club, “International Service” – Lions Clubs International share a mission of service to the blind and visually impaired around the world. The McKeesport Lions Club’s tree symbolizes this local organization’s service and commitment to those in need.
15. McKeesport Family Center, “Forever Focused on Families” – Focusing nonstop on families is a kind, heartfelt gesture from the families of the McKeesport Family Center. They are striving for greatness in life – looking through the lenses, being non-judgmental of others, and embracing everyone where they are. Family is and should be the top priority in every view in life. So please take a moment to look through our lenses and love on FAMILY.
16. Mon Valley School, “Christmas Past” – This tree focuses on recycling. Once again, Mon Valley students are feeling the effects of the changes in our world due to the pandemic. Since supplies are limited, they decided to use Christmas cards of the past and turn them into beautiful ornaments. Each student received a Christmas card during their art classes with Miss Morelli and created their own original ornaments for the tree.
17. McKeesport Recreation Board, “McKeesport Strong” – McKeesport Recreation Board members are proud to share their pride in our city, school district, and community with activities throughout the year. Despite a slow year for community events, they are happy to be part of a safe, socially distanced Festival of Trees.
18. Kiwanis Club of McKeesport/White Oak, “Serving the Children of the World” – This tree is decorated with Kiwanis colors – large lights and ornaments surrounded by snowflakes featuring pictures of the club’s members. The tree is topped with a world globe signifying that Kiwanis is a global organization. The local club is celebrating its centennial this year, having served the McKeesport community since 1921.
19. McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center, “McKeesport Memories” – It is the mission of the McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center to preserve and present the community’s history. This tree features photographs of McKeesport’s past, including streets, churches, sports highlights, and more.
20. McKeesport Housing Authority, “Merry Maintenance Christmas” – Our housing authority’s maintenance department tree includes several items that they use daily to care of properties throughout the City of McKeesport – and a few extra festive items. The tree itself was built by maintenance staff and decorated by office staff. From the MHA family to yours, have a safe and happy holiday season!
21. PAWS Across Pittsburgh, “Here Comes Santa Paws” – Our four-legged friends are ready for sparkle season, waiting on bated breath for the Big Man in Red to appear with their treats. Paws Across Pittsburgh is returning that favor by decorating this crate tree with treats for festival-goers and their furry friends. Please take a snack to enjoy at home.
22. Pennsylvania American Water, “Protect Our Watershed” – Pennsylvania American Water encourages customers to help protect our watershed this holiday season by reusing and recycling. Plastic bottles, toilet paper tubes, and other discarded items were “upcycled” into many of the beautiful ornaments that adorn this tree. Garland made of so-called “flushable” wipes serve as a reminder to never flush this personal care item, which does not break down like toilet paper and can cause blockages. Also, customers are asked to defend their drains against fats, oils, and grease (also known as FOG) from cookies, pies, turkey, and even salad dressings. These things build up inside pipes over time — leading to clogs and sewer overflows.
23. Girl Scout Troop 58112, “Celebrating Our Community All-Stars!” – This tree is dedicated to the neighborhood frontline workers who keep this community safe every day! The Girl Scouts are excited to spotlight local doctors, nurses, military personnel, EMS, firefighters, police, and teachers. This is a great community because of great people. Not all heroes wear capes!
24. Women for a Healthy Environment, “Healthy Homes for the Holidays” – This tree will display information about creating and maintaining a healthy home – addressing issues like lead poisoning prevention, reducing asthma triggers in the home, implementing safer cleaning options, and shedding light on resources that exist for families. As people spend a lot of time in their home, it is important that they are given the information and resources to keep it safe and healthy, especially for the holidays. Attendees can take the magnets and cloths that serve as the ornaments.
25. McKeesport Area School District Community Outreach Liaisons, “Have a Waddle Good Christmas” – This tree is decorated as a friendly penguin who is welcoming students and visitors to McKeesport Area schools.
26. Daughters of the American Revolution: Queen Aliquippa Chapter, “Stranger in the Woods” – The Queen Aliquippa Chapter’s tree offers a nature theme, based on the award-winning book, “Stranger in the Woods,” a photographic fantasy by Carl Sams II and Jean Stoick. The story takes place one morning after a winter’s snowstorm, when the animals and birds in the forest notice that something strange has come to their woods. They are all wondering, “Who is this stranger? Why is he here, and what surprises did he bring?” Dedicated to all who love and appreciate nature, who protect wild places, and to the snowman who lives in every child’s heart, this tree will be decorated with woodland animals, birds, snowmen, the story’s surprises, silver, gold, and red ornaments, white lights, and for extra fun, a woodland fairie.
27. Carnegie Library of McKeesport, “The Tree of Our Library’s Past” – The McKeesport library’s tree takes visitors back in time with decorations based upon long-ago pictures of this historic site. Take a glimpse into the past of one of McKeesport’s most historic establishments and all of its time-honored traditions.
28. McKeesport City Hall, “Candy Land”— McKeesport City Hall staff wish everyone the sweetest holiday season! This tree is decorated with sparkling, sweet treats to celebrate the season.
29. Mayor Michael Cherepko, “Working Together for a Better McKeesport” – The theme of “Working Together” is more than a slogan. It’s an invitation for every member of the McKeesport community to be a part of the great things happening in our City. Decorated in an orange and black construction theme, this reflects Mayor Cherepko’s campaign to build a better community for everyone to enjoy.
30. McKeesport City Council, “Friendship” – McKeesport friends, new and old, will always go together like silver and gold.
31. Western Behavioral Health at Mon Yough Specialized Foster Care, “Four Seasons of Fruitful Families” – The concept for this tree is seasons – “family seasons” – and will be visually represented with handcrafted garland. The tree will be divided into four tiers, each of which will feature various aspects of seasonal motifs (winter, spring, summer, and autumn) incorporated into the respective sections of garland and adornments. Each will feature words or phrases such as empathy, active listening, learning, understanding, validation, love, etc. to represent the family seasons and ways to foster healthy relationships. Foster care youth and parents decorated paper crafts and DIY ornaments to incorporate anecdotal accounts of their experiences and how they create their family. This theme showcases how loving relationships are fostered by way of trusting the process and moving through the seasons.
32. Bridge City Church, “Bridge City Kids” – All of the Bridge City Kids, from infants to fifth-graders, have created handmade Nativity-themed ornaments for this tree.
33. Mon Valley Homeschool Group, “Homeschool Homespun Handicrafts” – Homeschoolers are as individual and as different as the snowflakes that fall from the winter sky. Their ornaments show their individuality and creativity. Everything is made by homeschooled children and their families with much love. They wish everyone a blessed Christmas season!
34. Mary Mother of God Parish, “Parish Family” – This tree is decorated by the Mary Mother of God Faith Formation, Youth Group, and Parish Families. Ornaments are homemade, representing the families who make up this parish.
35. Cub Scouts Pack 99, “Reduce, Reuse, Rejoice!” – This tree concept is recycling with the tree itself and all ornaments made by the Scouts, using reused materials.
36. Twin Rivers Elementary School, “Ohana” – Ohana speaks to the concept of a larger family that is not necessarily connected by blood. An Ohana is special. The people within it are bound together by genuine compassion, culture, support, loyalty, and love for each other. To become a part of someone’s Ohana is a great honor. As the holidays approach, it is a time to self-reflect on the spirit of goodwill to one another. Remembering that we truly are all one family, or Ohana.
37. McKeesport Area Pre-K Counts, “Camp Pre-K – Where the Adventure Begins” – Pre-K Counts is located in Founders Hall, providing a quality preschool experience for 72 students, ages 3 and 4. This is where their learning adventures begin! The school focuses on learning, academics, and social development through play and having s’more fun every day! This tree features tents where visitors can see the little learners’ faces. It also has some camping favorites like hot cocoa, fires, s’mores, and camping trailers.
38. Jodie Matta Dillinger Cancer Supporters, “Up, Up, and Away” – This tree is dedicated to those who flew away too soon. May our love carry your spirit far. It is also dedicated to our friends and family – lifting their spirits as they battle cancer. We will continue to fight cancer together. All proceeds from the tree will be donated to the Jodie Matta Dillinger Foundation at UPMC McKeesport.
39. Living Hope Church, “O Come Let Us Adore Him” – This tree is adorned with nativity ornaments to celebrate the reason for the season – the birth of Jesus Christ. The theme of Living Hope’s Christmas Eve service is “O Come Let Us Adore Him,” so they found it fitting to share that message with attendees of this year’s festival. The congregation joined together to make or donate all the nativity ornaments on the tree. Living Hope Church, 5824 Smithfield St., will conduct a candlelight service at 6:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
40. Francis McClure Elementary School, “Bring Luck to 2022” – Students and staff decorated various good luck charms including horseshoes, shamrocks, and stars. Francis McClure Elementary wishes everyone a happy, healthy, and lucky 2022!.
41. Cub Scout Pack 53, “Scout Law” – This Port Vue-based Cub Scout pack developed the tree’s theme to highlight the Scout Law, which along with the Scout Oath, outlines the tenets by which a Scout strives to live their lives. By exhibiting these tenets, the Scout builds and learns the basic skills necessary to help them become leaders in their community. The Scouts felt that, especially during the Christmas season, it is important to showcase their main purpose as Scouts for the community.
42. Praise Christian Academy, “The Stars Are Brightly Shining” – Students in kindergarten through eighth grade created stars as reminders of those that shined so brightly on the night the Light of the World was born – Jesus! May this light continue to shine in our hearts and through our lives.
43. McKeesport Little Theater, “Seussical, The Musical” – McKeesport Little Theater Juniors are putting together their 2022 winter musical, “Seussical!” Students from across our region are working together to bring all your favorite Dr. Seuss characters to life and create a magical show. Performances are planned for January 14, 15, 16, 20, 21, and 23.
44. Girl Scout Brownie Troop 50951 & Cadette Troop 52137, “A Look Into Our World” – These troops created ornaments that provide the viewer with “A Look Into Our World.” The girls used materials to make representations of how they see their roles in society, their passions, perceptions, and beliefs.
45. Twin Rivers STEAM Afterschool Program, “STEAMing Up Something Sweet” – Twin Rivers STEAM students in kindergarten through fifth grade are working with STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) concepts and learning how to reuse items to help the environment. Students decided to repurpose items that they use throughout the day to make “sweet” items for their tree.
46. Fawcett Plan Task Force, “May the Fawcett Plan Kids Be With You” – Fawcett Plan Task Force hosts a National Out Night Celebration every summer. National Night Out is an Event celebrated on the first Tuesday in August. The Task Force hosts activities for children and entertainment for everyone. The children who attended the event this summer made their own decorations for the Festival of Trees. Fawcett Plan Task Force is a group of neighbors dedicated to organizing activities for the Fawcett Plan neighborhood which is in McKeesport’s 8th Ward. McKeesport Alliance Church is a vital member of The Task Force.
47. State Senator James R. Brewster, “Holiday Cheer” – Senator Brewster is proud to represent the 38 municipalities that make up the 45th Senatorial District! With each community represented on a decorated stocking and hung with care, the tree is full of festive ornaments, bright lights, and holiday cheer.
48. McKeesport Message Committee, “Living the Message” – Carrying out the city-wide theme of “Respect, Dignity, Hope, and Love,” the McKeesport Message Committee ( a subgroup of the Mayor’s Committee on Crime and Violence) hopes the Festival attendees will share this message. The tree highlights community members who have received our “Living Message Awards.”
49. Mon River Fleet Lions Club, “True Colors” – The original Lions Clubs International colors were purple and gold. Over the years, it became harder and harder to match the purple, and the purple was eventually changed to blue.
50. McKeesport Tiger Marching Band, “Solarbration” – This tree’s title and theme represent the 2021 McKeesport Tiger Marching Band’s competition show. After the year of the pandemic, it is a celebration of the sun, and newness, like a rebirth of life after the pandemic. The show involved the sun and the colors yellow, orange, and red. The band and color guard had uniforms that matched these colors. The band was incredible this season – and very successful. They marched in White Oak’s Memorial Day Parade, halftime of every Tiger football game, the Ligonier Days Parade, and the Salute to Santa Parade in downtown McKeesport. They took two second-place awards and one first-place finish leading up to the Tournament of Bands Championship, where they placed second and tied for first in artistic expression.
51. The Dance Company for the Performing Arts, “The Nutcracker” – The student dancers of the Dance Company of the Performing Arts in North Versailles Twp. have crafted these ornaments to share their love of the classic Christmas ballet, “The Nutcracker.” These talented dancers will be performing a 90-minute version of this ballet at the Grand Theater in Elizabeth on December 4 and 5. The studio offers classes for children 2-18 in ballet, tap, jazz, modern, musical theater, and more.
52. 20th Century Club of McKeesport, “Pat Van Horn and Volunteers” – This sparkling tree is proudly dedicated to Patricia Van Horn, the founder and principal organizer of the McKeesport Festival of Trees. Pat loved her hometown of McKeesport and was very active in volunteering with many community organizations. Her vision was to create an opportunity for McKeesport residents to gather and celebrate their community during the holiday season.
53. McKeesport Area High School Red and Blue Newspaper, “The Promise Pine” – Students designed this tree based on inspirational messages – arriving at this idea after reflecting on the difficulties we all have experienced over the last couple of years. They would like to spread positivity to all.
54. Mon Valley Independent, “Christmas Around the World: A Tribute to International Village” – This tree is decorated in celebration of one of McKeesport’s signature events, International Village. This heritage festival celebrates the sights, sounds, and tastes of nations around the world.
55. Mary of Nazareth Catholic School, “The Nativity of Our Lord” – Mary of Nazareth Catholic School decided to decorate this year’s tree with the true meaning of the season. Students in preschool through eighth grade have made ornaments depicting all who were there at the birth of Jesus. At the top of the tree, visitors will see the Holy Family. Students made shepherds, wisemen, angels, stars, and animals that came to Bethlehem to see the birth of the savior of the world.
56. McKeesport PONY-COLT Baseball, “Super COLT Baseball” – The year 2021 has been one of hard work, perseverance, and celebration for McKeesport PONY-COLT Baseball. The organization’s inaugural tree hosts ornaments that commemorate exciting events and beautiful relationships that were developed in 2021. They happily celebrate the Super COLT team winning the RBI CitiSports League championship played at PNC Park by displaying their trophy here at the Festival. Honoring community collaborations, they have included nods to McKeesport Tigers baseball and football booster organizations, the McKeesport Police Department K-9 Unit, Penn State Greater Allegheny, the Jamie Brewster-Filotei Foundation, and the City of McKeesport. While building these relationships and working closely with their members, McKeesport PONY-COLT Baseball has been able to infuse thousands of dollars into these organizations from the annual K-9 Classic and Halloween Havoc tournaments.
57. McKeesport Area High School Student Council, “Notable Tigers” – Students designed this tree to share their Tiger Pride. The ornaments feature prominent McKeesport graduates from the past and present. Student council members are proud of the success of all of the McKeesport alumni and hope to have many more “Notable Tigers” to add in the future.
58. Mon Valley Initiative, “Home for the Holidays in 2022, Presented by Citizens Bank” – Homeownership is a goal for many Mon Valley residents, but it may seem out of reach. With help from Citizens Bank, Mon Valley Initiative provides free, personalized housing counseling services that are approved by both HUD and PHFA. This tree highlights some of the people who were able to make their homebuying dream a reality in the Mon-Yough Area after using the housing counseling program. Homeownership is an investment both in our Mon Valley communities and the people who live here. If you’ve been renting or living with relatives, imagine how nice it would be to have your own “Home for the Holidays” in 2022 in McKeesport or the surrounding area. Grab a flyer or scan the QR code to find out how.
59. McKeesport College Club, “Celebrating 100 Years” – McKeesport College Club is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. The tree is designed to represent the strong leadership, community service, and social aspects of this organization for the past 100 years.
60. Backyard Junior Gardeners, “It’s a Bee-U-Tiful Christmas” – This tree provides information about the importance of the honeybee and they threats they face, including habitat loss and harmful pesticides. The group’s young gardeners participate in backyard workshops that educate and create garden-related items in addition to community service. Over the years, they have created more than 800 valentines for residents of the John J. Kane Regional Nursing Center and other local homes. Look at their artfully crafted beeswax ornaments and honeybee information.
61. McKeesport Area High School Interact Club, “Old-Fashioned Cut-Out Christmas” – The Interact Club is the student extension of our area Rotary Club – encouraging students to be engaged citizens and take on service projects within their community. For the Festival of Trees, students made cut-out ornaments in traditional Christmas themes in hope that viewers will reflect on simpler times.
62. Nuttall Public Safety Equipment LLC, “Thin Line Tree” – With the thin blue line representing police and red line fire, the meaning of the thin line is a symbolic show of division between order and anarchy. It’s a line these civil servants pride themselves on upholding. In addition, this symbol often is displayed as the ultimate form of respect and tribute to those who have lost their lives in the act of civil service and protection to those they serve. Nuttall Public Safety is proud to support and stand by those who risk their lives on the device and protection of their communities.
63. McKeesport Fire Department, “Safe and Happy Holidays” – Firefighters can offer tips to keep your family safe. Have a working smoke detector in your home and practice your fire escape plan. Do not overload electrical circuits with lights or portable heaters. Replace open flame candles with battery operated LEDS when possible. Happy, Safe Holidays!
64. McKeesport Ambulance Rescue Service, “All Things EMS” – This tree is decorated with a few of our emergency medical professionals’ favorite things – the tools they use on a daily basis to perform lifesaving procedures.
65. McKeesport Police Department, “The Grinch” – The McKeesport Police Department protects and serves … even from the Grinch! The tree is decorated in a “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” theme with heart-shaped ornaments marked with the officers’ badge numbers.
66. Semper Fidelis, “Every Time a Bell Rings, an Angel Gets Their Wings” – This year, Semper Fidelis of McKeesport designed a tree to honor the club’s deceased members. They were true angels on earth. Upholding their tradition of decorating with handmade angels, they will honor members who have passed on. The gold tree represents the idea that these angels, who now have earned their wings, donated their time on earth and are worth their weight in gold.
67. Altrusa International of McKeesport, “Jack Frost Nipping at Your Toes” – Each year, Altrusa International of McKeesport bases the theme of its tree on what the club will donate this holiday season. This year, it’s about keeping feet warm. Socks will be donated to the Intersection, as they are the number one item requested there in the winter. The tree is decorated in a frosty, cold look with socks under the tree.