The Fourth Annual Festival of the Trees was held at the Palace Event Center Thursday night. Organized by Blessing Baskets, the purpose of the event was to raise money for the less fortunate. The money will be used to help provide meals to hungry kids over the summer, as well as providing food and toys to families around Christmastime.

Thursday’s event has also traditionally been called Christmas in July, and for good reason. About a dozen festively decorated Christmas trees took center stage as attendees bid for them in the live auction.

A few of the trees were themed — one was even called the “mermaid” tree — and they were all provided by El Reno citizens and businesses.

Mayor Matt White emceed the live auction. He stood on-stage asking for bids, thanking the community and cracking jokes. One of the jokes involved the temperature, as the air conditioner had briefly gone out in the event center. Though the heat could've been considered an annoyance, it didn’t stop anyone, including White, from having a good time.

“Can we turn the heat up a little more?” he joked. “Just two more degrees.”

The crowd chuckled and the night went on.

Bids were placed on a variety of items including cakes, Disney World tickets, Smoke on the Water passes, TV sets, cedar fencing and a whole lot more. An art print by noted El Reno artist Bill Jaxon drew a winning bid of $5,000.

The silent auction featured items such as gift baskets and pet products.

Hundreds of people were in attendance. They were all encouraged to mingle and they did — people could be seen shaking hands and introducing themselves with a smile to total strangers.

An extravagant dinner was also catered by Marilyn Arnold.

Though meant to be a fun-filled evening, the trees tradition has a higher goal — helping out the needy.

The money generated by the auctions is sure to total into the thousands, and all of it will be used to bring gifts and kindness to the needy of Canadian County.