MOREHEAD CITY, CARTERET COUNTY - The Friendly Market in Morehead City is kicking off a brand new competition this year centered around Christmas trees. Six teams will compete to create the best looking tree to raise money for the charity of their choice.
Just because the trees are for charity doesn't mean they were free. Each team had to buy a Christmas tree at a cost of $200. That money has gone into a big pot to be given away to the team that wins the competition.
So far, most of the teams represent local charities like the Storehouse Food Pantry and the Family Promise of Carteret County. Currently, only one is representing a national charity; Sandy Hook. Two trees are still available to be purchased for the competition, which would bring the total up to eight.
Jodie Willis-Ballou, Cheryl Pigott, and Stephanie Sledge were all at the Friendly Market to pick out their trees.
Pigott represents Bellagurl in Morehead City. They are sponsoring the Family Promise of Carteret County by doing a "Hero" tree.
"Locals that have a hero can send us their photo and a quick sentence of 'this person is a hero to me because...' and were making them into ornaments that we are going to be putting on the tree." says Pigott.
Pigott says they are hoping families will surprise someone special in their life by nominating them as a hero. Heroes are allowed to take their ornament home with them from off of the tree after the competition.
Willis-Ballou is following a "Giving Tree" theme for their food pantry tree, and she says she is going to add a lot of flare. She is hoping people from the community bring canned goods to put under the tree.
"I think we decided we are going to put on 1,500 lights because we just decided we want our tree to pop out." says Willis-Ballou.
Teams have the entire week to decorate the trees before they are revealed at the Christmas Festival on Friday. Owner of Friendly's Market Mindy Fitzpatrick says the festival will be an all-day event.
"Our festival this weekend will all be centered around family events, and it's all free. We are going to have Santa, hay rides and ornaments; crafts for the kids." said Fitzpatrick.
While the trees are on display there will be an extra chance for them to raise money for their unique charities. Anyone that comes to the festival on Friday will be able to vote for their favorite tree. Each vote coasts a dollar, and the money raised from the votes will be awarded to the tree that gets the most votes.
"So we hope to help to charities in a very big way in time for Christmas." says Fitzpatrick.