Winter wonderland: Horizons Unlimited holds Christmas tree silent auction

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 5, 2017

SALISBURY — Amy Pruitt walks through Horizons Unlimited with a bounce in her step, humming the tune “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.”

Neat lines of Christmas trees fill the halls and main room of Horizons, each decorated with color, light and imagination. For Pruitt, it’s a callback to the science center’s traditional hall of trees — but with a twist.

These trees are for sale as part of a silent auction.

Each tree has its own theme inspired by a book, and each was decorated by a local school. They feature gingerbread men, wands and golden feathers, Christmas carol sheet music, unicorns and more.

Pruitt, executive director, said the auction came about after talks with Rowan-Salisbury Schools administration about old artificial trees and ornaments.

“We had an abundance of trees that had been used for multiple purposes in the past,” Pruitt said.

For the past several years, the trees — and their ornaments — gathered dust. But Horizons decided to pull them out and offer an opportunity to schools. If media center coordinators and students wanted to decorate a tree, they could keep the profits.

Minimum bidding starts at about $40, but it’s $50 for some trees. The winning bid will go directly to each school’s maker-space project, an area where students can tinker, create and learn.

“And so this is what we ended up with: a variety of trees,” Pruitt said.

Participating schools are South Rowan High, Erwin Middle, Corriher-Lipe Middle, Isenberg Elementary, Millbridge Elementary, Bostian Elementary, Landis Elementary, Faith Elementary, Mount Ulla Elementary and China Grove Elementary

Horizons Unlimited decorated five of the available 15 trees, theming them around classics such as “The Mitten” and “A Christmas Carol.” There’s even a “Star Wars” tree.

“This tree will speak for somebody,” Pruitt chuckled, showing off a unicorn-themed tree.

The public is welcome to come in and bid from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. People can also bid from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday and Dec. 16. All bids will close at 3 p.m. Dec. 16.

Bidders also can view trees and make virtual bids on Horizon’s Facebook page, @RSSHorizons. Winners will receive a copy of the book that inspired the tree.

Horizons Unlimited also has a free Story Walk along its nature trail, where families can enjoy a book spread out over several stations along the trail. The project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vermont, and developed in collaboration with the Kellog-Hubbard Library. Story Walk is open from 7:30 a.m. to dusk daily.

“We’re trying to just offer some different things that are affordable,” Pruitt said.

Other holiday events include Cookies with Santa from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday; a laser holiday show at 1 and 1:30 p.m. Dec. 16; and a Mannheim Steamroller Christmas at 2 p.m. Dec. 16. Donations of $2 are suggested for all programs.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.