Festival of Trees at Goodridge Freedom Center celebrates beauty of all kinds
In a York City tradition, the two-story row home of former York businessman William C. Goodridge has again transformed into a museum of Christmas trees.
Now in its fourth year, the festival is at the home-turned-Underground Railroad museum, the Goodridge Freedom Center, at 123 E. Philadelphia St.
It highlights the legacy of Goodridge through this year's theme of beauty.
"For the Beauty of the Earth" — a tree decorated with sheet music from a hymn of the same name; ornaments representing squirrels, leaves and flowers; and a globe at its base — is intended to portray natural beauty.
Others displayed at the center on Saturday, Nov. 16, feature salon products — which will be donated to local women's shelters — a peacock, York's architecture, an under-the-sea theme and Disney characters.
Several were decorated by volunteer Stephany Sechrist, of Windsor Township, who was involved in organizing the festival and has also done her own "festival of trees" events in other locations.
Goodridge kicked off the tradition in the 1850s when he was supposedly a pioneer of tree-decorating in the community.
"Mr. Goodridge invited York to come see his tree — allegedly York's first one!" reads a display card on the Goodridge family tree.
Goodridge was the son of a slave, a conductor on the Underground Railroad and a York City businessman. The festival displays also pay homage to his African American heritage.
A tree called "Beauty in the Life of a Girl, Past, Present and Future" depicts prominent African American women in the York community, such as state Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York City.
And York City Council member Edquina Washington decorated a tree of hats worn by African American women at church.
The center's manager, Kelly Summerford, also led an Underground Railroad tour on Saturday, sharing Goodridge's history with visitors.
The festival kicked off during downtown York's First Friday celebration on Nov. 1. It will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays through Dec. 21, except for Friday, Dec. 6, when it will be open from 4 to 8 p.m.
Cost of admission is $1 for students and seniors and $3 for adults.