SALT LAKE CITY, UT – At the yearly Festival of Trees event, you’ve likely seen the enormous and extravagant backyard playhouses being auctioned. Just like with the Christmas trees, quilts, and many other items donated to this event, the playhouses have a story. One such story comes from the father-daughter team of John Sparks and Jennifer John.
Jennifer first found an interest in the Festival of Trees shortly after she gave birth to a stillborn daughter. She visited the event and felt that she too should donate to the Primary Children’s Medical Center. For several years, she donated trees as part of her healing process in remembrance of her daughter’s memory.
In 2004, Jennifer and her husband had finished building their new house and moved into it shortly after the Festival of Trees. The day after the event, she got the call that the individual who had purchased her tree was donating it back to them. Jennifer had written off having Christmas decorations as everything was still in boxes, and the impact of what she’d been doing each year for the festival held an even more significant influence over her.
After that, Jennifer joined the committee for the Festival of Trees and then later formed her own local committee down in Springville. She and her father teamed up to begin constructing backyard playhouses to donate to the Festival of Trees. John Sparks, then 72 at the time, had worked previously as a teacher during the school year and in construction during the summer.
John tapped into his construction experience to embrace this cause with his daughter Jennifer. Together, they put together the materials donated from local businesses to create playhouses that have averaged $10,000 in donations at the Festival of Trees. Each playhouse is 8’x12’ in size and takes an average of two months to fully construct.
Since Jennifer and John first began constructing playhouses for the Festival of Trees in 2007, Sunroc Building Materials and W.W. Clyde & Co. have donated both materials and time to helping with their project. For the first playhouse, Sunroc Building Materials donated 100 percent of the materials needed for the playhouse. In subsequent years, they now donate lumber materials at a lower price. Each year, W.W. Clyde & Co. assists by donating their time on the holiday weekend to bring in a front-end loader and fork lifts to load the playhouse onto a DG Concrete truck for transport to the South Towne Exposition Center.
Jennifer and John wish to give special thanks to the following donors for the materials and time they’ve given over the years to further the work of Primary Children’s Hospital (in alphabetical order):
• DG Concrete
• Ives Woodturning
• Jones Paint and Glass
• Lonestar Builders
• Roofers Supply of Lindon
• Set in Stone Tile
• Shepherd’s Carpets and Furniture
• Sunroc Building Materials, with a special mention of Janalee Long
• Turnkey Interiors
• W.W. Clyde & Co., with a special mention of Bob Taylor
The Festival of Trees was first started more than 40 years ago to help raise funds for the Primary Children’s Medical Center. The event serves as an opportunity for families who have benefitted from the unique and specialized services of the hospital to say thanks and donate their time and services. The event caters to the selling of handmade articles, candies and baked goods, wreaths and door decorations, centerpieces, gingerbread houses, backyard playhouses, and Christmas trees which can be purchased in a silent bid auction. And, the best part of it all is that everything is donated to the event and all funding goes to the hospital. In 2011, the Festival of Trees raised more than $1,600,000 for Primary Children’s Medical Center.
Sunroc Building Materials
Since 1938, Sunroc Building Materials has been providing quality building and construction materials to contractors, builders and homeowners throughout the Intermountain West. Sunroc is the one-stop solution for virtually all construction needs from nails and screws to hand tools and ladders to windows and custom doors.
W.W. Clyde & Co. was founded in 1926 by Wilford W. Clyde. Still locally-owned and operated, the company now has more than 250 employees and completes heavy transportation construction projects and water treatment plants throughout the Intermountain West each year, including environmental reclamation and building highways, bridges, dams, airports, mines, and golf courses.