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September 06, 2001 - Elves Busy on 23rd Festival of Trees

What: Kick-off party for 23rd Annual Festival of Trees

Where: Home of John and Nancy Stamper

When: September 6, 2001

Beneficiary: ArtReach programs, which bring the arts to underserved communities

Gala Chairperson(s): Katharine Honnen and Martha Kelce

Honorary Chairperson(s): Jan and Bill Hart

Corporate Chairperson(s): Tom Meade

Co-Chair(s): John Tobey and Shelley Fuss, dinner co-chairs; Sharon Whiton Gelt, kick-off chair; David Alexander, Jamie Angelich and Holly Kylberg, advisory chairs

Catering: Three Tomatoes

Information: 303.433.2882 ext. 224

By Blacktie Staff

The honorary chairpersons for this year's 23rd Annual Festival of Trees have been known to buy as many as 16 Christmas trees at a single event.

Jan and Bill Hart of Denver have become famous for their yule-ish spending.

Jan and Bill, parents of six, have gone to every Festival since the first one in 1981 at Mammoth Gardens. The pair can recite the Festival's different venues over the years -- from Mammoth Gardens to the Greek Hellenic Center, the Design Center, Hilton Hotel, Museum of Nature and Science, Currigan Hall, Coors Field, Park Meadows and many more.

Bill and Jan say they go each year because they support what ArtReach does -- which is to bring art and cultural events into the lives of Denverites who might not otherwise be exposed to them. Last year, ArtReach served 77,000 Denver residents.

The organization's big annual fund-raiser is the Festival of Trees, one of the city's most enduring holiday traditions.

This year, the Winter Gala and tree auction will be Sat., Nov. 17, at the Marriott Hotel Downtown. Christmas trees, wreaths, centerpieces and swags, decorated by some of the city's top designers, will be auctioned. Dinner and dancing will follow.

So what do the Harts do with 16 trees each year? Jan says their children's schools all get a couple.

And Bill puts up the first tree he bought at that first festival in 1981 in his office each year.

"It's a 12-foot tree, and I have 12-foot ceilings in my old Capitol Hill office," said Bill, an attorney with Hart and Trinen. With gold balls and garlands, it's traditional and fits well there, he says.

The couple also send trees as surprises. When their 16-year-old daughter Allison was 2, the Harts had to take her to the emergency room at Lutheran Hospital one night around the holidays, Bill recalls.

The care they received was so wonderful they delivered a tree to the emergency room. "The ER doctor was flabbergasted when the ArtReach truck showed up," said Bill.

"There was a little plaque on the tree that said 'Give something back.' That made it kind of special," said Bill.

The grand prize at this year's raffle is a four-day stay in New York, including two round-trip tickets on Frontier Airlines, tickets to a Broadway show, and accommodations in a luxury hotel.

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