'Pine Nuts' add sparkle to Crescent Christmas

Friday, December 14, 2012

There are people who go nuts decorating every room of their house for the holidays. There are people who go nuts trying to outdo their neighbors in draping every outside surface with blinking lights.

And then there are the Pine Nuts.

The Pine Nuts are a group of neighbors who live on Pine Street and cooperate, instead of compete, at Christmas. This year, they are sponsoring a tree in the Crescent Hotel's Christmas Forest to raise money for the residents' fund at Brighton Ridge, a nursing home where relatives of their neighbor, Billie Sullivan, live.

"Both her mother and her sister live at Brighton Ridge," said Bill Ott. "We bought all the decorations. She was able to get her sister to come out and decorate the tree with her."

Ott is a Pine Nut and also marketing director for the Crescent Hotel, which started the Christmas Forest seven years ago as part of "Christmas at the Crescent" festivities. The goal: to raise money for local non-profits. This year, 25 Carroll County charities and organizations decorated trees for the forest, which raises several thousand dollars through donations from people voting for their favorite, plus cash prizes from the Crescent.

"People can vote through New Year's Eve," Ott said. "We count the votes on New Year's Day."

Previously set up on the hotel's east lawn, the Christmas Forest has been relocated this year to the garden off the back porch, where sidewalks provide better footing for viewers. The Crescent provides the trees, sets them up, stakes them down tightly -- the wind is blustery up on the mountain -- and puts the lights on, Ott said. Then the group comes in and decorates. This year, the trees were lighted on Dec. 1 at a party with cocoa and carols.

"We had 125 people here," Ott said.

Last year, OARS (Ozark AIDS Resource Services) won the prize for best tree. The Crescent awards $200, $100 and $50 for first, second and third place, and gives $25 to each remaining entree, Ott said. Among those vying for the 2012 prizes: the "I Love Roanna" tree created by Crescent employees for former catering manager Roanna McDaniel. McDaniel, who was also chairman of the local Chamber of Commerce and the Eureka Springs Historical Museum board, is undergoing surgery this week.

"Some of her friends here decided to sponsor a tree to help her," Ott said. "This is our way of reaching out to her."

The best time to see the trees is during the day or just before dusk, when the lights show up as well as the decorations. Carie Lynn and Jared Wenger, visiting Eureka Springs from Oklahoma last week, said they just happened to stumble across the Christmas Forest, and were preparing to check it out, then vote for their favorite.

"It's an interesting concept," Carie Lynn Wenger said. "I like it."

When Billie Sullivan and sister Cherry Sullivan were decorating the Brighton Ridge tree, they were out there giggling like school girls, Ott said. And Cherry said she couldn't remember ever decorating a tree with her sister before.

"They put glitter on the pine cones in honor of the Pine Nuts," he said.

The Christmas Forest is located at the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa, 75 Prospect Ave. For more information, go to www.crescent-hotel.com.

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