Why is downtown Dayton's tree called the 'holiday festival tree'?

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Dayton Christmas Tree arrives downtown

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Anyone who has issue with the word "holiday" in  the name of downtown Dayton's day-after-Thanksgiving festival should probably take it up with Virginia Kettering.

"That's what Virginia called it, so we are keeping it," Downtown Dayton Partnership spokeswoman Val Hunt Beerbower said of the name "Dayton Holiday Festival."

Some do take issue with the name and its tree being referred to as "the holiday festival tree" or 'the tree at the holiday festival,' but the philanthropists named the festival "Dayton Holiday Festival" when she established it 44 years ago.

Virginia Kettering (1907-2003) changed the face of the region through her philanthropy.
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Virginia Kettering (1907-2003) changed the face of the region through her philanthropy.

Credit: HANDOUT

Credit: HANDOUT

The month-long Dayton Holiday Festival kicks off 4 to 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25 at  Courthouse Square in downtown Dayton.

>> MORE: 10 best Thanksgiving events in the Dayton area

She established the Virginia W. Kettering Dayton Holiday Festival Fund with The Dayton Foundation in 1989.

Since 1990, the fund has awarded about $450,000 to promote activities connected with the downtown holiday celebration, according to the Dayton Foundation's website.

Flashback to the Dayton Holiday Festival’s children’s parade on Nov. 29. Thanks to the Downtown Dayton Partnership for sharing! Share your best pics that capture the Dayton holiday spirit on Instagram #daytonholiday
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Flashback to the Dayton Holiday Festival’s children’s parade on Nov. 29. Thanks to the Downtown Dayton Partnership for sharing! Share your best pics that capture the Dayton holiday spirit on Instagram #daytonholiday

Kettering, the daughter-in-law of famed Dayton inventor Charles Kettering, died Feb. 17, 2003 at age 95.

>> MORE: Ohio inventor Charles Kettering

Many have complained about the festival's tree not expressly being called a Christmas tree.

Beerbower said it is the holiday festival's tree.

"It is definitely a tree. It is definitely a spruce," she said. "Anything else is up to interpretation."

The tree is installed at Courthouse Square in downtown Dayton.

>> MORE: Holiday festival tree arrives in downtown Dayton

It will be lit during the Grande Illumination, the highlight of the Dayton Holiday Festival kickoff.  The ceremony begins at 7:45 p.m. 
Beerbower said there is no record of the tree officially being called anything but a tree, which is what it is.

"People can call it whatever they want," she said. "They can call it the Easter tree. They can call it a Christmas tree."

Kettering established the holiday festival to give Dayton area children a fun event during the holiday season regardless of religious leanings.

Source: Kamron Taylor, Dayton.com Staff Writer
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Source: Kamron Taylor, Dayton.com Staff Writer

"Enjoy it however you want," she said. "Make it the event you want."

This year's kickoff event includes live reindeer, on-stage entertainment, a holiday village, a gingerbread home competition, horse-drawn wagon rides, a street fair, adventure activities organized by the Junior League of Dayton, the Tike's Shoppe, a train display, and Wintergarden Woodland window displays.

The window displays from Rike's department store will once again be on display in the Schuster Center at Second and Main streets in downtown Dayton.

Several other activities will happen throughout December.

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The Dayton Holiday Festival drew crowds of people to downtown Dayton Friday night. The Grande Illumination and the Dayton Children's Parade were two of the highlights of the annual event. The festivities also included live musical performances, horse drawn wagon rides and carnival rides for children.
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The Dayton Holiday Festival drew crowds of people to downtown Dayton Friday night. The Grande Illumination and the Dayton Children's Parade were two of the highlights of the annual event. The festivities also included live musical performances, horse drawn wagon rides and carnival rides for children.

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

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