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Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center Auxiliary set for eighth annual Festival of the Trees in Ogdensburg

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OGDENSBURG — Though capable of many things, the women of the Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center Auxiliary do not claim to be electricians.

Enter volunteer Gerald H. Sholette, who auxiliary members say is responsible for bringing the lights to this evening’s eighth annual Festival of the Trees.

Today’s festival will be held once again in the Armory on Ford Street.

“It’s pretty incredible,” auxiliary member Mary E. LaCombe said, describing Mr. Sholette as something of a mad scientist, with his “handful of extension cords and his box full of wires.”

“I don’t know how he gets all those trees to work,” she said.

The electrical capacity of the Armory, constructed out of quarried stone in 1897, is limited in many areas, Mr. Sholette said. “New York state maintenance people bring up a sub-feed panel every year and disperse electricity to X-amount of trees per circuit,” he said. “We have it down pretty much to a science.”

Work began Wednesday and concluded Friday, including wiring electricity to 62 trees and a makeshift kitchen area, where Claxton-Hepburn dietitian Steven Hawes will serve a soup and sandwich lunch beginning at 11 a.m. today.

The Festival of the Trees auction begins at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 6 p.m. for an admission price of $15. Organizers are reminding the public about the auxiliary giving tree, which will be located at the front of the Armory. Monetary donations and canned goods will benefit the Ogdensburg Neighborhood Center’s outreach program.

Those interested in viewing the themed trees before the auction can get a free peek from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Children’s activities will be available all day, as will a “Once-Loved Treasures” ornament and decorations sale and the annual Hollyberry Sale.

About 400 people are expected to pass through the Armory doors, according to auxiliary members. The auxiliary hopes to raise $40,000 to $50,000.

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