More than 70 trees adorned from tip to trunk will decorate just about every corner of the Merced County Courthouse Museum by the time the doors open for a Christmas celebration this weekend.
Museum director Sarah Lim said she’s found it challenging to give each of the 73 trees its due, as the event has become more popular every year.
“We have so many trees, we had to find (extra) spots,” Lim said, pointing to a tree pushed into the corner of a museum stairwell.
During the museum’s open house, planned Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m., staff will offer eggnog and other Yuletide treats to visitors who come to hear Christmas carols and see the spruced up trees.
Never miss a local story.
Schools, businesses, churches and other groups decorate each tree in whatever way they see fit. “All the trees are beautiful, and they all have different themes,” Lim said.
Kent Floro of Merced was decorating his tree Wednesday on the third floor of the courthouse. He said he wanted to expand on a 20-year tradition he keeps at Stratford Evans Merced Funeral Home, where he is the manager.
“They’re all ornaments people have brought in, in memory of their loved ones,” Floro said, adding that it’s his first year in the courthouse.
Floro said he’s probably collected more than 200 ornaments over the years. The funeral home holds a ceremony every December to celebrate the lives of lost loved ones, but Stratford Evans staff wanted to extend the memorial to the courthouse display, he said.
The annual Christmas tree exhibit began in 1984, the second year the museum was open, and has expanded from a single room to cover all three floors of the former courthouse.
Lim said the event is popular because it’s a holiday celebration shared by the community. “Not everybody can afford to put up a tree at their place,” she said.
On the second floor, between walls covered in Native American basketry, members of the Golden Valley High French Club on Wednesday hung fleur-de-lis ornaments and tiny representations of the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.
“We just thought it would be a really cute idea,” said Fae Harmon, 16, the club’s vice president. “We have a lot of people in our club that are really creative and like to do crafts.”
The Golden Valley High junior said her club decided to stick with a French theme for the silver, black and pink decorations on their first-ever Christmas tree, or “l’arbre de Noël” in French.
Our Lady of Mercy representatives adorned three trees in a “Peace on Earth” theme Wednesday with ornaments handmade by students at the Catholic school.
Parent board volunteer Annmarie Felsinger said this is the school’s third year with a museum display.
“Christmas is a big deal,” Felsinger said. “We wanted to be part of this to support the community.”
The open house planned at the building on 21st and N streets will include performances by Golden Valley High School Holiday Ensemble, Retired Teachers Chorus, Our Lady of Mercy Christmas Choir, St. Paul Children’s Choir, Caitlin’s Suzuki Violin Studio and Harmony Valley Chorus.
Admission to the museum is free, and the doors are open Wednesday through Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. The trees will be up through Dec. 30.