The Rockingham-Harrisonburg SPCA barked up the right tree this year.

Christmas tree, that is.

The local animal shelter decorated a Christmas tree for an annual contest at Hotel Madison & Shenandoah Valley Conference Center.

The pet-themed tree was part of a contest that transformed Hotel Madison’s lobby and mezzanine. 18 imaginatively decorated trees in the space into a grove representing local businesses, nonprofits, churches and agencies.

“It’s so beautiful. My favorite part is walking through at night when all the other lights are low but the tree lights are on and you can see the lights from Quill’s lobby bar,” said Alexa Wolf, Hotel Madison conference services manager.

The challenge was to decorate a unique tree that celebrated the season and represented each organization. Each group brought its own team to design and decorate a tree for the hotel.

Gemeinschaft Home, which provides programming and services for those who recently exited incarceration, covered a large, full tree in jewel-toned ornaments and gauzy ribbons in blues and greens reminiscent of peacock feathers.

“It’s really just fun and different. All of the businesses have free rein to decorate their trees as they see fit. The ambiance in the [hotel] was just transformed by all the different trees,” Wolf said.

Omar’s Hair Salon & Barber Shop created a skinny tree with a luxe black and white theme, and My Haberdasher, which sells custom JMU menswear, decorated a dapper tree with small men’s ties made of ribbon, ornaments of tiny men in suits and sprays of indigo beads.

Hotel Madison received over 1,500 votes for the top 3 trees for the contest that’s in its second year.

Wolf said the competition was designed to connect the hotel with local organizations and celebrate the season with holiday travelers who pass through.

“It helps to give local businesses [and organizations] a spotlight and it also helps us make the lobby look beautiful,” Wolf said. “It’s fun for the guests and [they] get to see more information about the Harrisonburg nonprofits and local businesses.”

RHSPCA, which won last year’s competition, took home the grand prize, with 344 votes, Wolf said. Last year’s tree had a general pet theme, according to Tiffany Corbin, RHSPCA’s fundraising and marketing manager.

“We got our volunteers together and started thinking of an even bigger idea for this year,” Corbin said.

This year, the tree had an adoption theme. It featured handmade photo ornaments from adoptions that happened throughout the year. Large letters spelling out “adopt” cascaded down the tree. Volunteers also made ornaments of adoptable animals’ photos and the RHSPCA provided information on their cause near the tree.

“[The] volunteers worked really hard. It was so much fun making everything,” Corbin said.

The RHSPCA had a lot of intakes through the fall and is taking in a lot of cats, according to Corbin.

“We get thousands of animals throughout the year. Sometimes people don’t always think to go to shelters a lot first. We are trying to educate people in our community about the pets in our care who need a loving home,” Corbin said.

Corbin said each year the number of adoptions goes up, and this year it reached 1,600 pets who found a new home through the RHSPCA. Corbin also said the RHSCPA is celebrating its 50th year in 2022.

The spirited tree earned the shelter a two-night stay in a presidential suite in Hotel Madison. Corbin said the RHSPCA will use the prize in an auction at its 2022 gala.

The second-place winner was the Boys & Girls Club of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. The nonprofit received over 200 votes for its skinny tree decorated with Christmas gnomes, BGCHR flyers and tiny ornaments with the organization’s logo.

Third place went to Magnolia Rose, a new organization in Waynesboro that aims to provide a trauma-informed safe space for victims of sex trafficking. The Magnolia Rose tree featured beautiful white decorations, a gold angel, large roses and a wooden sign with the words “healing rooted in hope.”

Wolf said a big part of the contest is helping local organizations get the word out about their mission.

“This year we wanted to branch out a bit more. A lot of the nonprofits were able to put up some of their flyers and information at their tree displays,” Wolf said.

The whimsical trees were on display through December and will be taken down early next week.

Contact Jillian Lynch at 574-6274 or Follow Jillian on Twitter @lynchjillian_

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