Festival of Trees

Please view a virtual tour of McKeesport's 2020 Festival of Trees here.

With the Festival of Trees benefiting the Intersection Food Pantry each year, the McKeesport Recreation Board is sharing a link for online viewers to donate directly to the Intersection via the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

At a time when many of us cannot celebrate together in person, please help us celebrate "Christmas from a Distance." Send a photo of your household's holiday tree to Mayor Michael Cherepko's office by emailing jen.vertullo@mckeesport-pa.gov to help us with this virtual extension of the Festival of Trees. Images will be shared on the City's website and Facebook page.

Staff and volunteers gather indoors among decorated trees

Mayor Michael Cherepko and the McKeesport Recreation Board are presenting a from 2-8 p.m. on Thursday, December 3, through Monday, December 7, from 2 to 8 p.m. in the Jacob Woll (Main) Pavilion in Renziehausen Park. Thanks to a generous sponsorship by Pennsylvania American Water, the city's sewage provider, this year's event is FREE to the public.

Each year, Mayor Cherepko describes the Festival of Trees as a great way to spread holiday cheer while being active in the McKeesport community.

“The Festival of Trees is a beautiful event,” Cherepko said. “Not only does it bring McKeesporters together in celebration of the holiday spirit, but it allows each of our local organizations, student clubs, churches, and other participating groups to share their mission and creativity with our community. We will do our best to continue this tradition – boosting our community’s morale and holiday spirit while respecting COVID-related guidelines and recommendations.”

All visitors must wear a mask, and a limited number of guests will be permitted inside at a time. Volunteers and staff will limit numbers, based on the pavilion’s occupancy, and guests will be asked to view trees on a specified path with directional signs. Free concessions will be limited to chocolate milk, hot cocoa, and cookies, available to go.

Hayrides have been eliminated from the program for 2020 only, as the McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center and the Garden Club of McKeesport were unable to participate this year.

2020 Festival of Trees - Participants & Descriptions

1. State Senator James R. Brewster, “Holiday Cheer” – Senator Brewster is proud to represent the 38 municipalities that make up the 45th Senatorial District! With each community represented on a decorated stocking and hung with care, the tree is full of festive ornaments, bright lights, and holiday cheer.

 2. Striffler Family Funeral Homes, “Celebration of Life” –This tree is a tribute to all loved ones who have passed. Whether recently or many years ago, your loved one will always remain a part of your life. Whether that loved one was your spouse, child, parent, grandparent, sibling, grandchild, cousin, aunt, uncle, fur-baby, companion, or friend, a loss is never easy and the time you spent together is never forgotten. Celebrate and cherish your loved ones’ lives.

3.White Oak Animal Safe Haven, “Don’t Shop. Adopt.” – WOASH is a no-kill shelter that provides medical care and good homes for homeless animals. Come visit us, we may have your new best friend.

4. Business and Professional Women’s Club of McKeesport, “Life is Sweeter” – The McKeesport Chapter of BPW is an organization that believes in giving back – empowering young women through the Young Careerist and Individual Development Programs, sharing informative monthly programs, and providing charitable support. This tree inspires the spirit of volunteerism and giving in our community, as “Life is Sweeter” for the giver and receiver.

5. PurePenn and the McKeesport Community Fund, “Community Cheer” – This tree features PurePenn ornaments as well as symbols of the winter season, Christmas, and Hanukkah. There are candy canes that children can take as a trinket of cheer for the McKeesport community.

6. Faith Lutheran Church, “How Sweet It Is to be Loved by Him” – The Legend of the Candy Cane is a reminder of God’s love for us and of the true meaning of Christmas. White is a reminder of Jesus’ sinless nature and his birth from the Virgin Mary. The hard candy is a reminder of Jesus as the solid rock foundation of the church and our lives. Red stripes are a reminder of Jesus as God with us as truly human and his death on the cross. The shape of the candy cane is a reminder of “J” for Jesus and the staff of the Good Shepherd.

7. Tube City Online, “A Tube City Christmas” – Since 1996, Tube City Online has been sharing information about the McKeesport area on the Internet. It’s the home of The Tube City Almanac and, in 2015, launched a 24 -hour Internet radio station, WMCK.FM/ Tube City Online Radio, broadcasting from the former Daily News Building in McKeesport. This tree reflects volunteer contributions through photos, articles, radio shows, and podcasts.

8. Mayor Michael Cherepko, “Working Together for a Better McKeesport” – The theme of “Working Together” is more than a slogan. It’s an invitation for every member of the McKeesport community to be a part of the great things happening in our City. Decorated in an orange and black construction theme, this reflects Mayor Cherepko’s campaign to build a better community for everyone to enjoy.

9. Alliance Christian Child Care, “Holiday Handprints” – The handprint has been the emblem of the Alliance Christian Child Care for more than 20 years. It only made sense to use children’s handprints as the basis of our beautiful ornaments this group’s our first-ever tree at the Festival. With each age group making different handprints – mittens, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Holly Jolly Santa Claus, and Christmas Trees.

10. McKeesport City Hall, “McKeesport Rising”— McKeesport City Hall staff have embraced Mayor Mike Cherepko’s McKeesport Rising Project, which highlights economic development, infrastructure improvements, and public safety. With all these positive things taking place, McKeesport is truly on the rise.

11. Carnegie Library of McKeesport, “Literary Classics” – The McKeesport library’s tree represents some of the most memorable quotes from literature. Certain lines, be they from picture books or classic novels, are simply so well written that they stay with readers for a lifetime. These moments are captured in this tree, taking readers of all ages back to the moment they first encountered them.

12. Mon Valley School, “Christmas Through Children’s Eyes” – This tree focuses on the meaning of Christmas through the eyes of special-needs students at Mon Valley School. This year has brought many changes for all of us due to the pandemic. The year 2020 might have brought many changes and challenges for students, but one thing that isn’t going to change is what Christmas means to them! Ornaments were created, decorated, counted, and packaged by Mon Valley students.

13. McKeesport Lions Club, “International Service” – Lions Clubs International share a mission of service to the blind and visually impaired around the world. The McKeesport Lions Club’s tree symbolizes this local organization’s service and commitment to those in need.

14. Pennsylvania American Water, “Protect Our Watershed” – Pennsylvania American Water encourages customers to help protect our watershed this holiday season by reusing and recycling. Plastic bottles, toilet paper tubes, and other discarded items were “upcycled” into many of the beautiful ornaments that adorn this tree. Garland made of so-called “flushable” wipes serve as a reminder to never flush this personal care item, which does not break down like toilet paper and can cause blockages. Also, customers are asked to defend their drains against fats, oils, and grease (also known as FOG) from cookies, pies, turkey, and even salad dressings. These things build up inside pipes over time — leading to clogs and sewer overflows.

15. Transitions Health Care, LLC, “Faith and Happiness” – Sunflowers symbolize unwavering faith and unconditional love. Transitions Health Care staff believe their residents and coworkers are like sunflowers! More so this year than ever, with the many challenges we face as a community, through faith and unconditional love we will continue to pull through and grow.

16. McKeesport Family Center, “Happier Days Ahead” – Only happy thoughts are welcome here at the McKeesport Family Center! Families have created a tree that is a visual reminder of happier days ahead. During this time, when it seems bad news comes daily, let’s take a moment, think happy thoughts, sprinkle some unicorn dust, and enjoy it.

17. Girl Scout Troop 58112, “Great Women of the Past, Present, and Future” – It seems like the only good things that happened in 2020 were all of the history-making moments for women. The country lost a legendary Supreme Court justice, and we have our first female Vice President. The Girl Scouts organization takes great pride in encouraging young women to be whatever they want – without limits. Each of the troop’s girls highlighted significant women in history made an ornament of themselves!

18. Women for a Healthy Environment, “Get the Lead Out – McKeesport” – Get the Lead Out is a community-driven initiative to raise awareness about the danger of lead in our homes and provide solutions for decreasing exposure to this harmful toxin. Lead can lurk in paint and dust, as well as soil and water. Keep the dust down by using our microfiber cloths (Really! Please take one.) and a cleaning mixture of half vinegar and half water. Read facts about reducing lead exposure on our tree and at www.GetTheLeadOutPGH.org.

19. McKeesport Area School District Community Outreach Liaisons, “Social Distancing” – During these times, McKeesport Area schools are safely practicing social distancing with students learning virtually for a week. District administrators created “masker-pieces” for this tree.

 20. Daughters of the American Revolution: Queen Aliquippa Chapter, “Salute to Our Frontline Workers” – The Queen Aliquippa Chapter salutes those on the front line of this pandemic – doctors, nurses, first-responders, and essential service professionals who are putting their lives at stake for us during these trying times. We salute the unsung heroes who continue to uplift our communities with resources to achieve long term success. We salute the grocery store employees, mail carriers, teachers, waitresses, sanitation workers, military, and more than we can name. Thank you for your Selfless Service. We appreciate you.

21. Kiwanis Club of McKeesport/White Oak, “Serving the Children of the World” – This tree is decorated with Kiwanis colors – large lights and ornaments surrounded by snowflakes featuring pictures of the club’s members. The tree is topped with a world globe signifying that Kiwanis is a global organization.

22. McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center, “Queen Aliquippa” – One of the most impactful women of the 18th Century is one about whom very little is known. In 1753, Queen Aliquippa, Chieftess of the local Mingo Seneca tribe, was living in McKeesport along the Youghiogheny River. She met George Washington here 267 years ago, when he presented her with a coat and a bottle of rum. She was a staunch supporter of the British Government in the French and Indian War, and you can visit her monument in Highland Grove Park.

23. McKeesport Housing Authority, “Home for the Holidays” – Our housing authority’s maintenance department constructed this creative tree with wooden crates and filled them with ceramic pieces that make McKeesport feel like home. Visitors will see snow-covered houses, churches, and other places twinkling with warm, cozy lights.

24. PAWS Across Pittsburgh, “Here Comes Santa Paws” – Our four-legged friends are ready for sparkle season, waiting on bated breath for the Big Man in Red to appear with their treats. Paws Across Pittsburgh is returning that favor by leaving treats for festival-goers and their furry friends. Please take a snack to enjoy at home.

25. McKeesport Recreation Board, “McKeesport Strong” – McKeesport Recreation Board members are proud to share their pride in our city, school district, and community with activities throughout the year. Despite a slow year for community events, they are happy to be part of a safe, socially distanced Festival of Trees.

26. McKeesport Area Pre-K Counts, “I Ain’t Getting COVID for Christmas” – Pre-K Counts would like to introduce the “I Ain’t Getting COVID for Christmas” tree to bring some levity to the crazy situation in the world today. We all know we are tired of social distancing and wearing masks, but we must remember it’s absolutely necessary at this time. The children wanted to bring a smile to the McKeesport community, if even for a minute.

27. Mon Valley Homeschool Group, “Mon Valley Homeschool Group” – This tree is a way for homeschoolers to show off their creativity and individuality. Visitors will find a wide range of ornaments all created from scratch – each as original as the children who made them. “For unto you is born this day in the City of David; a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!” Luke 2:11

28. The Colon Club, “On the Rise” – The club’s mission is to raise awareness, educate, and help those with colorectal cancer, particularly those diagnosed under the age of 45, along with their community of support. They want to prove to the world colorectal cancer is no longer an “old person’s disease.” It is, in fact, on the rise, in young adults.

29. Mikey Dee, “Give the Gift of Music This Christmas” – McKeesport native Mikey Dee and the staff at Mi-DeeRecords are excited about the release of their latest CD and are shipping other recordings daily. A few recent popular CDs are featured on the tree. Support local musicians and give the gift of music this holiday season!

30. Roman Catholic Community of Elizabeth, Glassport, and South Allegheny, “Christmas Wishes” – This holiday season, and during time of the pandemic, the Roman Catholic community created a tree that conveys hope and love for all people. Its handmade garland offers holiday wishes. 

31. 20th Century Club of McKeesport, “The Beauty of Giving” – This sparkling tree symbolizes the charitable giving and service of 20th Century Club members since the organization’s founding 94 years ago. Glittering stars and bejeweled ornaments hang upon a vintage tree to represent the club’s decades of support to charities, education and science. Proceeds from the club’s spring fundraiser will benefit Make A Wish and the John J. Kane Foundation. Shining pins, earrings, and bracelets reflect donations by club members to the foundation’s shop for the residents at the John J. Kane Regional Center. The jewelry donations are just one of the ways the club supports that foundation and many other charitable services, needs, and individuals.

32. Jodie Matta Dillinger Cancer Supporters, “Heaven’s Inspiration” – Despite this long year of hardship and fear, our angels – our family and friends lost to cancer – carry messages of hope and inspiration to remind us that things will get better. Our hope is that these messages will also help and inspire you through these trying times.

33. Praise Christian Academy, “Desolation: Our Lives are Empty without Jesus” – Has 2020 left you feeling anxious? Hopeless? Filled with despair? While this year’s theme came to mind shortly after last year’s festival, it couldn’t be more fitting this year. Praise chose to show that desolation through a tree with no lights, no decorations, and utter darkness. In the midst of the emptiness, we are thankful that God sent His Son to save us. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:16-17

34. Girl Scout Daisy Troop 50951 & Junior Troop 52137, “Can’t Mask our Holiday Spirit!” – These troops decorated masks to represent their holiday spirit as the true meaning and celebration of Christmas that can’t be “MASKED.” These girls have persevered since the onset of the pandemic and continue to work hard in school and Girl Scouts even though both settings are very different than ever before.

35. McKeesport Message Committee, “Living the Message” – Carrying out the city-wide theme of “Respect, Dignity, Hope, and Love,” the McKeesport Message Committee ( a subgroup of the Mayor’s Committee on Crime and Violence) hopes the Festival attendees will share this message. The tree highlights community members who have received our “Living Message Awards.”

36. McKeesport Ambulance Rescue Service, “First-Responders Christmas” – This tree is decorated with medical equipment and supplies that MARS first-responders use on a daily basis to keep our community safe, with a touch of Christmas cheer.

37. McKeesport City Council, “Friendship” – McKeesport friends, new and old, will always go together like silver and gold. 

38. McKeesport Fire Department, “Safe and Happy Holidays” – Firefighters can offer tips to keep your family safe. Have a working smoke detector in your home and practice your fire escape plan. Do not overload electrical circuits with lights or portable heaters. Replace open flame candles with battery operated LEDS when possible. Happy, Safe Holidays!

39. McKeesport Police Department, “We Are the World” – The McKeesport Police Department believes there are ways to bring people together … even in 2020. Decorated with globes, hearts, and garland of people holding hands, our officers are showing their love for everyone in the McKeesport community and around the world.

40. Semper Fidelis, “Midas Touch: Honoring Angels” – The gold tree symbolizes the Semper Fidelis Club’s milestone of 100-plus years of giving by angels to angels. It also coincides with the name Semper Fidelis, meaning “Always Faithful,” and the club’s motto of “Lifting Higher as We Climb.” Club’s inception in 1919 was started by housewives who aspired to help young women from McKeesport Area School District further their education. Today, young men also are involved.

41. Altrusa International of McKeesport, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” – Altrusa International of McKeesport has collected new hats, gloves, and scarves for this year’s! Altrusa will donate the items to Intersection of McKeesport, joining that agency’s effort to keep the community warm.

42. Mon Valley Independent, “Christmas: A Time for Remembering … Last Year!” – The ornaments on this tree were printed from the Mon Valley Independent newspaper from November 25, 2019, through January 2, 2020. Collectively, they show the heart and soul of McKeesport during (Pre-COVID) Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year.