Annual Carroll event is wreathed in charity

Proceeds of art council's fund-raiser to be shared with N.Y. attack victims

November 06, 2001|By Melody Holmes | Melody Holmes,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

When terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York on Sept. 11, one of the many organizations that lost its offices was the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

Though its staff survived, the organization's headquarters, at 5 World Trade Center, was destroyed.

Organizers of the annual Carroll County Arts Council's Festival of Wreaths want to help the Lower Manhattan council get back on its feet. The Carroll group will donate part of the proceeds from this year's fund-raiser to help New Yorkers.

In its fourth year, the Festival of Wreaths is a fund-raiser that helps Carroll County Arts Council defray the costs of maintaining its building and paying employee salaries.

This year, the council will donate 10 percent of the festival's profits to the Lower Manhattan council, Executive Director Sandy Oxx said last week. The organization is one of the oldest and largest arts councils in Manhattan.

"We're increasing our support for downtown arts groups that have been affected by the attacks, and ensuring that the cultural community helps in rebuilding the World Trade Center," said Tricia Mire, director of development for the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Mire said that one artist supported by the council was killed and 24 others lost their studios in the attack.

The Festival of Wreaths invites businesses, clubs, organizations and individuals to submit original wreaths to be displayed in the Winchester Exchange building, 15 E. Main St., then sold in a silent auction.

"I hope we really see, through higher bids, the effects of Sept. 11 on people's generosity toward the victims. Maybe they'll be willing to pay $10 more than they did last year," Oxx said. "We've never had a wreath yet that we haven't found a home for."

Bids for wreaths have ranged from $15 to $700. The organization raised $10,000 last year.

The festival brings consumer traffic to the building in downtown Westminster, where the council has offices, Oxx said.

"It brings all kinds of people to the businesses downtown. All the merchants are always grateful," Oxx said. "It's funny to be thanked [by store owners] for doing a fund-raiser for yourself."

Oxx said she looks forward to meeting or exceeding the 138 entries received last year.

Participants receive a 24-inch artificial green wreath to decorate and transform into traditional Christmas-themed creations or less traditional themes, such as Pokemon, Harry Potter and Beanie Babies, Oxx said. Ribbons are awarded to entries in categories including "Most Unique Wreath," "Most Comical Wreath" and "Favorite Christmas Wreath." The wreaths get fancier every year, said Oxx. "People really try to outdo themselves because they realize it really reflects on their business," she said.

Because of the Sept. 11 attacks and the council's donation, Oxx said the organization has added prize categories for wreaths with themes of patriotism, multicultural unity and peace.

"Something tells me we'll see a lot of red, white and blue wreaths this year," Oxx said.

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