Herman L. Horn Christmas tree proclaims “Life is Sweet”

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VINTON–Herman L. Horn Elementary School traditionally decorates an entry for the Hotel Roanoke Fashions for Evergreens competition each holiday season. Also traditionally–they usually win an award in the event.

Once again the HLH tree has a place of honor at the top of the grand staircase at the hotel. More than 34 trees in the competition went on display on Thanksgiving Day. The public is invited to visit and vote for their favorite tree (hopefully the HLH one) by monetary donations of any amount. The event is free and open to the public seven days a week.

The trees remain on display through New Year’s Day. All donations benefit the local United Way campaign. This is the sixth year for the competition which has raised more than $20,000 for the United Way in that time.

HLH preschool teacher Candy Morefield, along with instructional assistants Angie Dippel and Ryan Dunagan,, created the HLH entry and its decorations.

They have kept their theme of promoting cancer awareness as in the past two years, but with a positive spin. Their entry is entitled “Celebrate–Life is Sweet.” Their intent is “to make people realize how sweet life really is” and that “there is always something to celebrate.”

Herman L. Horn has once again entered a tree in the Hotel Roanoke Fashions for Evergreens competition. The public is invited to tour the display and vote for their favorite with donations of any size. The tree which raises the most dollars will be named the People's Choice winner.
Herman L. Horn Elementary has once again entered a tree in the Hotel Roanoke Fashions for Evergreens competition. The public is invited to tour the display and vote for their favorite with donations of any size. The tree which raises the most dollars will be named the People’s Choice winner.

Morefield said that they have chosen cancer awareness as a theme because “most everyone has a connection either as a survivor or knowing/losing someone they have loved to this disease,” many personal to HLH.

This year all of their ornaments are handmade and represent “things that are sweet.” Most have been up-cycled from items they discovered at local thrift stores. They prefer not to use commercial ornaments, but to create their own.

Old Christmas balls were turned into cupcakes. Scrap felt was transformed into candy ribbons and suckers. Plastic bowls became Hershey Kisses. Popsicles were created from kitchen sponges. Starlight mints were used as accents.

Real waffle cones hold ice cream “guaranteed not to melt.” The giant cupcake which tops the tree is made of an old lampshade with fiberfill and spray paint.

The names of cancer survivors and those who have passed away from cancer are found on display—“our own ‘In Honor of’ and ‘In Memory of’ dedications,” said Morefield.

A giant cupcake stands beside the tree made from thrift store hatboxes decorated with candies.

There’s a peppermint fence made of poster tubes and colored tape, proving that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

HLH Prinicipal Peggy Stovall said that she is “proud of her staff and their efforts—it’s become a tradition here.”

Each year the HLH staff goes caroling at Berkshire Health and Rehabilitation Center and then goes to the Hotel Roanoke to view the Fashions for Evergreens display, followed by dinner out.

According to the Hotel Roanoke, at the end of the public voting the tree that raises the most money will be declared the winner of the People’s Choice Award. All contributions raised will be donated to the United Way of the Roanoke Valley.

Herman L. Horn has won awards in each of the past three years, including both the People’s Choice and the Judges’ awards.

“We are proud to support and partner with the United Way of Roanoke Valley this year,” said Gary Walton, general manager of the Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center. “With our largest field of competitors, this year’s Fashions for Evergreens is poised to be our best year yet. It’s the season for giving and this event allows the entire community and guests of the Hotel to support a great cause in a fun delightful event.”