Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Auction Night

Auction Night at the Festival of Trees.

It was awesome.

It was actually fun to see people crowding around trying to bid on our trees. It was neat to stand back and listen to people as they commented back and forth over our efforts. Some people thought the trees were simply beautiful. One person commented that the trees were not tall enough for their front room. Several people liked the tree with the spinning airplanes. All of the trees, except one, received multiple bids. One of them was the focus of a bidding war that made us all drop our jaws at the final tally.

But by the end of the evening each one had found a new home. And that was the ultimate goal of all this.

Through all of the planning and execution, my biggest fear was - what if the trees don't sell. Are they good enough that complete strangers would want to buy them for hundreds, or even thousands of dollars?

Well, tonight proved to us once and for all that the trees were good enough.

And now the trees will be able to stand together for the next few days and thousands of people will get the chance to come and see them up close and see for themselves. They will be able to see for themselves how cool Vicki, Randy, Brittany and MacLean were - how they still are. And that's what this is all about.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Decorating Day

We made it! After almost a year of preparation, we finally made it to decorating day.

We got up before the sun, loaded up then headed out bright and early to the South Town Expo Center. We had already loaded up the trees in the back of the truck the Saturday before. When I got there just after seven, the truck had already arrived and Evan's dad was in the process of unloading. By the time we got the trees unloaded, everyone else was arriving.

We had an army of help. My brother Glen and his family flew in from Jefferson City, Missouri to help out. My sister Misti was here from South Carolina. We were so glad to have her here.

They joined my sister Wendi and her husband, Evan Frederickson who were in charge of Brittany's and Randy's trees; along with their children and one of Evan's nieces, as well as Mom and our neighbors the Jensen's who all worked their magic to make today as successful as it was.

I want to thank all of my friends at FOX 13 News, including Bob Evans, Hope Woodside and Renai Bodley, and especially Scott McKane and Doug Eldredge who came down to help us tell our story.

To see the story please visit the FOX 13 News website.


The trees turned out fantastic. Much nicer than I hoped they would be. In the coming days we will highlight each of the trees a little bit more.

Tomorrow night is the opening night and auction. It will be the first time I have been able to go. It will be neat to see how much the trees will go for. Of course, it will be tempting to bid on one of them, but if I did that, I would have to bid on all four of them.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Day Before

It's a couple of days after Thanksgiving, and while many of you are putting up your Christmas trees, we just took ours down.

The front room seems empty now. We've had a Christmas tree up since the end of July. We've had two up since probably September. We've decorated it and re-decorated it at least a dozen times - trying to figure out what works and what doesn't. Now, on the day before Decorating Day for the Festival of Trees, we think we are ready.

Yesterday we took all four Whittle trees over to a warehouse in Salt Lake City to reinforce them according to the Festival rules.

We put piece of PVC pipe in the base of the each tree and clamped a six and a half foot piece of rebar
to each of them. Normally, this step is done at the South Towne Expo Center on Decorating Day, but since we had four trees to deal with, we wanted to get it done early so that we could focus on the decorating part on Monday.

We also used self-tapping screws to secure each section of the tree to each other.

This is actually the first time all four trees have been up in the same room at the same time.

After they were ready, we loaded them up into the back of a truck for transport.

Then Mom took the whole family out to eat at Buca Di Beppo's where we ordered more food than we could possibly eat.

So, that's it. We are almost ready to do this.

Almost a year of preparation and it has all come down to this.

We will be at the South Towne Expo Center tomorrow morning as close to 7am as we can be.

Let's do this.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Two Weeks To Go

We are down to two weeks until decorating day for the Festival of Trees.

Lucinda spent most of the evening tonight putting the final touches on Vicki's Tree. It looks awesome, better than I had hoped it would be. We are close on MacLean's Tree also. From what I've seen from Wendi's place, Randy's and Brittany's Trees will be just as spectacular.

Now we need to take it all down and pack it up so we can put it back together at the Festival.

Randy's birthday was November 9th. He is exactly one month older than me.

It's weird to think all that has happened this past 15 months. Our lives changed that Sunday afternoon in August.

I'll never forget it.

I was in the backyard when I heard Lucinda call out to me. I could tell in her voice that something was very wrong. She had picked up the phone when it rang. On the other end of the line was the West Jordan Police Department. Something had gone wrong with the plane. It crashed. No one survived.

My first thought was my mom. We had to get to her. She was only a few blocks away. A quick phone call to a friend was made so that they could watch our children, and then Lucinda and I were off.

The next five hours were full of phone calls and lots of hugs and a lot of disbelief. It was so unreal. We lost them - all four of them.

Now it's November of 2012.

The holidays are coming back around. It's still weird. Every couple of years Vicki and Randy would make a point to come and visit us for the holidays. In a way, they are coming home to visit us this year.

They may not be with us physically this Christmas Season, but we will be able to feel of their spirit. Just working on these Four Trees all year long has allowed us to grow closer to them - grow closer as a family.

In two weeks - Glen and his family and Misti will be here to join Wendi's family and my family along with Mom and some choice friends of ours - to honor Vicki and Randy, Brittany and MacLean with a way to give something back. It's a chance to make of their tragedy something positive and good.

It all comes together in just two weeks.