The Holidays at Cantigny

Holiday festivities are in full swing at Cantigny Park. The Robert R. McCormick Museum staff is hosting their third annual Community Trees event.

Seven local charities were chosen to each decorate a tree representing their organization to display in the museum for the holidays.

Cantigny asks groups to participate if their mission is similar to efforts McCormick supported himself when he was alive.

“Decorating was an exercise in making it pretty, but it didn’t really connect with him or what he stood for,” said Diane Gutenkauf, Director of the McCormick Museum. “When we started to think that way it became really clear that if we invited groups that had missions similar to things that he cared about, or that were part of what our parent company the McCormick Foundation funds today, it would be more special.”

Just for participating, each organization will receive a donation of $2,500 from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. After their museum tour, visitors can vote for their favorite tree, as well as make their own monetary donation to the seven charities.

“We are going to do a special open house on December 1st, from five to eight [in the evening],” said Gutenkauf. “You will be able to come to the museum and walk through on your own to see how the house is decorated for Christmas and see the trees without having to go on a guided tour.”

The ballots will be tabulated after the trees are taken down December 30th, and the winner will receive an additional $2,500.

And on the other side of the grounds, the green house was overflowing with a sea of red just in time for the holidays. The horticulture staff held their fourth annual poinsettia event entitled “Shades of Crimson,” displaying their crop of 3,000 plants for the public.

“Our poinsettia event is a long standing tradition here at Cantigny,” said Joy Kaminsky, Director of Horticulture at Cantigny. “It really started because we learned that we could start growing them in June and July, that’s when we start phasing out our summer plant material for the gardens. We get them in as plugs and grow them for six months. The flowers that you’re seeing have been tenderly cared for, for six months in our greenhouse.”
At the end, the more than 750 visitors could also purchase their own poinsettia to take home.

After poinsettias are on display here at Cantigny, they go on to be used for other things: some are displayed on the premises, some are sold to the Central DuPage Rotary Club for their fundraising efforts, and each member of the staff and volunteers gets one to take home to their family.


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