Festival of Trees to join Balloons Over Vermilion

After 23 years, the Festival of Trees annual holiday celebration in Danville will corroboratively transition to Balloons Over Vermilion, a local nonprofit, volunteer-led organization responsible for the presentation of the area’s hot-air balloon festival.

Organizers and many volunteers for Balloons Over Vermilion have been involved with Festival of Trees since its inception.

“Having been associated with Festival of Trees for over two decades, I know the excitement of all those who circle the date on their calendars each year and look forward to sharing the festival experience with their friends and families,” said Pat O’Shaughnessy, chair of the Balloons Over Vermilion NFP board of directors.

Since 1997, Festival of Trees has raised more than $4.3 million for outreach programs and special health care initiatives benefiting patients and communities served by OSF Sacred Heart.

Proceeds of the 2021 Festival of Trees will benefit the Bobette Steely Hegeler Cancer Care Center at OSF Sacred Heart Medical Center in Danville.

Children’s ministry event on tap in Danville

Fair Hope Children’s Ministry, a faith-based mission that reaches out to children in need in Vermilion County, hosted a sorting event for donated items.

Kohl’s employees helped sort the many donations of clothing Fair Hope received Wednesday.

Kohl’s also contributed $500 to the mission.

The ministry is also starting a blessing box to be filled with extra clothing that can be used by anyone who is in need.

“This is a new adventure for us and we do hope it will be well received by our community,” Fair Hope spokeswoman Paula Meece said.

Middlefork Dark Sky Park sets streaming event April 7

Stargazers who frequent the Dark Sky Park at the Middlefork River Forest Preserve in rural Penfield will be able to stream a program for International Dark Sky Week.

The event is set for 5 p.m. April 7.

The program can be streamed free on the Champaign County Forest Preserve District’s Facebook and YouTube pages.

Dave Leake, retired director of the William M. Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College, will give an overview of why International Dark Sky Week exists, activities you can do to celebrate it and what you can do to contribute to an international cause.

He will provide a checklist of things you can do to improve the lighting efficiency of your home and ways for all ages to enjoy the sky.

The Middlefork Dark Sky Park is one of only 11 such parks in the nation.

Call 217-586-2612 or email pcain@ccfpd.org for more information.

Benefit planned for Westville officer

A sarcoidosis awareness benefit for Westville police Officer Misti Smitley will be held May 1 at GAO Grotto in Danville.

Tony Redenbaugh and Olympic Hardware are sponsoring the event.

Smitley is the Westville Police Department’s newest full-time officer, having started in July.

She works the third-shift patrol and could use some help getting the disease under control and coping with the costs of treatment.

The event will include dinner, raffles, a silent auction and music by Dixie Flyers.

Smitley began experiencing chronic, unexplained fevers two years ago. In July, she began having severe joint pain to the point where she was unable to get out of bed.

A CT scan revealed a mass on her lung, which led to the diagnosis of sarcoidosis. She suffers from extreme fatigue, painful nodules under her skin, bone and joint pain, skin sores, hair loss, and extreme weight loss.

The married mother of six will continue as a police officer for the village of Westville.

Paxton Community Sale set for April 3

A victim of the pandemic last year, the Paxton Community Sale will return next weekend.

The sale, sponsored by the Paxton Park District, is scheduled for 10 a.m. April 3 at Coady Park, 601 S. Fall St.

An auction of items will include tools, furniture, farm equipment, antiques, lawn and garden equipment, plants, animals, primitives, vehicles, appliances and more.

Food vendors will be on site.

Items may be dropped off between 1 and 5 p.m. April 2 and during the registration period of 6 to 9 a.m. April 3.

A $1 fee will be charged for each buyer’s number. Registration of buyers will begin at 8 a.m. on sale day inside the nearby civic center.

A 20 percent commission will be charged per tagged item as well as any buyback item.

History Channel show looking for local picks

The History Channel show “American Pickers” is coming to Illinois in May and is looking for leads on good places to pick — “specifically interesting characters and interesting items and lots of them,” producer Sarah Perkins said.

“The way we find people and collections for our show is through spreading the word far and wide so that people know we’re coming to town,” she said.

The pickers will be following all COVID-19 safety guidelines for safe filming.

Only private collections are featured, so no stores, malls, flea markets, museums, auctions, businesses or anything else open to the public.

To provide a tip, call 855-653-7878, email AmericanPickers@cineflix.com or head to the show’s Facebook page at facebook.com/gotapick.

Dave Hinton is editor of The News-Gazette’s ‘Our County’ section. He can be reached at dhinton@news-gazette.com or 217-249-2404.

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