The Times photo by Betsy Reason
Kim Harden of Noblesville, a tree designer and event coordinator for Good Samaritan Network of Hamilton County’s fifth annual Festival of Trees, decorates her “North Pole Fun” snowmen trees at the Hamilton County Government & Judicial Center in downtown Noblesville.
The Times photo by Betsy Reason Kim Harden of Noblesville, a tree designer and event coordinator for Good Samaritan Network of Hamilton County’s fifth annual Festival of Trees, decorates her “North Pole Fun” snowmen trees at the Hamilton County Government & Judicial Center in downtown Noblesville.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
Especially as you walk inside the atrium of the Hamilton County Government & Judicial Center in downtown Noblesville.
For the first time, Christmas trees -- hand-decorated and designed by Hamilton County designers -- are bringing awareness to the fifth annual Festival of Trees that benefits Good Samaritan Network of Hamilton County.
These five Christmas trees, on display through Nov. 16, are just a few of the many Christmas trees, wreaths and table centerpieces, which will be auctioned to the highest bidder during the gala event on Nov. 17 at The Bridgewater Club in Carmel.
“This is the fundraiser for Good Samaritan Network to help families in Hamilton County through the holiday,” said Nancy Chance, Good Samaritan’s executive director and founder, who uses the money raised to provide holiday assistance for pre-determined recipients in Hamilton County.
It’s the first time for a Christmas tree display to promote the fundraiser, said Chance, who watched as the designers decorated their trees the last weekend in October.
The display not only brings awareness to the actual event, but also to the new mobile and online bidding system being used for the silent auction in the days leading up to the event.  Those not attending the auction may still make a bid with this system.
Or you can even find a tree you like at the Judicial Center. “You can actually come in and scan a QR (Quick Response) code or text a bid, said Kim Harden, event coordinator and tree designer. 
“They’re all themed a little bit different,” said Harden, who was found setting up and decorating her Christmas trees just inside the front door of the Judicial Center.  Each tree has a posted name, sponsor and tree number.
It’s Harden’s third year to design a tree. This year, she created a unique family of Snowmen trees, called “North Pole Fun,” that can be seen in the front window of the Judicial Center. 
At Bridgewater, she’ designing another tree.
Harden, whose day job finds her in the cafeteria at Noblesville High School, started the Festival of Trees fundraiser for Good Samaritan in 2014. Following the 2017 event, Hamilton County Commissioner Christine Altmann, a loyal attendee, invited Good Samaritan to set up designers’ trees in the Judicial Center during the 2018 holiday season. “It makes it more visible,” Harden said, thankful for the county invitation.
Nineteen designers have been creating more themed decorated trees in Bridgewater Club’s basement since last Friday and will continue until the trees are finished this weekend, a total of about 10 days. Then on Nov. 17, the trees move from The Bridgewater Club basement to the ballroom. The trees from the Judicial Center will also be moved to Bridgewater.
You may wonder why it takes so many days to set up a Christmas tree. 
Harden said the most time-consuming part of setting up a tree is attaching the lights, “so you don’t see the wires.” That’s a technique that she had to learn. Then it’s pretty easy once you get the lights on, she said.
Harden, for her snowmen trees, had to stuff fiberfill into a snow blanket for a more finished look. (Everyone needs to come see these trees.)
Plus, there are so many details. Like adding branches to a tree to make the tree look fuller.
Besides that, all of the decorations have to be wired onto the tree. “Every ornament is wired on. Every light strand is wired on. Everything is wired on. So that takes time,” she said. “We don’t want anything falling off.”
Harden, at the Judicial Center, is joined by other designers, including her own daughter, Kaylee Stewart, a 2009 NHS grad in her third year as a tree designer. Her theme is “Midnight Magic.”
Andrea Middlesworth, Noblesville, a senior office manager for a tech company in Carmel, designed a “North Pole Fire Department” tree, in memory of her father, Henry E. Stoeffler, who was a retired Indianapolis Department lieutenant, and who died in July at age 86.
Middlesworth, who met Harden at the former Hazel Dell Christian Church and asked if she could help, will design another tree for Festival of Trees’ live auction.
Other designers with decorated trees at the Judicial Center include “Red and Gold All Curled Up” by David Maxwell and “Wrapped in Gold and White” by Victoria Shafer. 
Following the Nov. 17 event, purchased trees will be wrapped in plastic and professionally delivered free, on the following Monday or Tuesday, by Two Men and A Truck.
Each of the trees is on a platform board that easily slides across carpet, she said.
While some folks wrap up their tree for the next season, others have used the tree a season and donated the tree back to Good Samaritan. “We, as designers, are able to take it apart and rework that tree and auction it off the next year,” Harden said.
She said, “A good designer can get a tree done in two to three days.”
For more information on the Festival of Trees auction, visit www.gsnlive.org/
-Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com. Read more about Nancy Chance’s needs for this year’s Good Samaritan holiday assistance programs and annual Thanksgiving Day Free Meal in Betsy Reason’s column in an upcoming edition of The Times.