5 Star Stories: The Enchanted Forest
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - There’s a holiday tradition in the Mid-South that is just shy of its 60th anniversary.
And it’s no holds barred on COVID restrictions for the first time in two years at this year’s Enchanted Forest Festival of Trees, which is this week’s 5 Star Story.
You’re walking into a “Winter Wonderland” when you visit the holiday exhibit at the Museum of Science and History (MoSH).
MoSH Executive Director Kevin Thompson says, “It’s a wonderful holiday tradition for the city of Memphis and supports such a wonderful organization with LeBonheur.”
The glistening forest has brought holiday fun and good cheer to young and old alike for 59 years -- 20 of those in the decked-out halls of the former Pink Palace Museum - now known as MoSH.
But, as the Enchanted Forest Special Events Coordinator, Elizabeth Boywid, said, “...it started out Downtown at Goldsmith’s... and children would come to go visit Santa and tell him their wish list.”
The Enchanted Forest opened in the early 1960′s as a holiday display inside the Goldsmith’s department store which was once located at 125 Main Street in Downtown Memphis -- and was modeled after Walt Disney’s “Small World” exhibit at the World’s Fair.
In 1990, Goldsmith’s donated the forest to TWIGS (Together We Initiate Growth and Sharing) -- an auxiliary that supports LeBonheur Children’s Hospital which added the forest’s “Holly and Ivy” to the Festival of Trees -- and it’s been a fundraiser for the hospital ever since.
Boywid says it’s also a community event.
“There are several different competitions ... people can enter into... traditional themes and creativity, as well as the children’s division... We have volunteers... about a hundred volunteers come in to decorate trees and to create wonderful gingerbread homes,” she explained.
And, the delicious smell of more than 20 gingerbread houses can’t outshine the ginger creations themselves that impressed even the Food Network.
“Two contestants of ours were actually featured in the Great Holiday Bake Off ... including the winner,” Boywid boasted.
This year’s more than 40 sparkling trees include everything from a construction site to Christmas gnomes and more.
“From nature themes to a selfie station to a Batman tree,” added Boywid.
And after a two-year hold due to COVID restrictions, “Here Comes Santa Claus,” is ready to hear the wishes of every good girl and boy.
“We are so thrilled that we have the perfect environment to safely allow children to be with Santa and share all their dreams and hopes,” Boywid gushed.
MoSH’s Thompson says the museum is also jingling bells with a full calendar of events.
“We’ve got wonderful events to compliment it ... a couple of movies in the theaters ... just come down to MoSH and make a full day of it,” he described.
But, the most delightful thing about the Enchanted Forest is the comfort and joy it brings to young patients at LeBonheur.
“... this is to benefit children to have their best life and to have healthcare that they need... so that we can really take care of our community,” explained Boywid.
And then there’s the “thumpity-thump-thump” it brings to the hearts of visitors.
“The Enchanted Forest is about... connecting families... connecting families to share their faith, share fellowship and friendship, and just enjoy each other’s company,” Boywid expressed.
The Enchanted Forest Festival of Trees is open Wednesday through Sunday at the Museum of Science and History through Dec. 24.
For more information about the Enchanted Forest, visit Le Bonheur’s website or MoSH’s website.
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