BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ This year's magical display of whimsical, funny, and message-oriented holiday trees wraps up on Sunday, Dec. 29, at the Somerset County Environmental Education Center in Basking Ridge.

The next exhibit at the EEC, to open in early January, will be the annual "Nature Through a Child's Eye" art show, displaying artwork from schoolchildren throughout Somerset County.

This is the 42nd year that the free, non-denominational 'Festival of Trees' display has been open to the public at the EEC. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the EEC at 190 Lord Stirling Road. 

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Fifty two colorful trees were displayed in the EEC's main display hall.

Each year, the artificial trees are put up and decorated by local organizations such as scouts and other groups, departments such as the park rangers for the Somerset County Park Commission, schools, and local families.

Children and adults are able to visit the twinkling display and serve themselves cookies and hot chocolate at the Snowflake Cafe. 

'June in December'

The Mr. Local History Project, led by Bernards Township historian Brooks Betz, this year honors the late Bernards Township’s historian June Kennedy, with a “June in December” tree honoring her dedication to community and local history in the Somerset Hills.

June Kennedy served Bernards Township as its first town historian. In this role, June was always delighted to present the rich historical heritage of this area. Her activities included: 

- Speaking about local history to groups that ranged from the Boy Scouts to the Daughters of the American Revolution.

- Contributing her writings on local history to newspapers and publications (the typewriter on display under the tree helped produce these writings).

- Teaching history programs to local school groups.

- Leading walking tours through the town. 

- Running  a summer history camp at the Brick Academy school in Basking Ridge

- Naming more than two dozen streets in the township 

- Setting up thematic displays for municipal and area events

- Helping to organize activities for the celebration of the township’s 250th anniversary.

Kennedy retired in 1990, after 20 years as Township Historian, and she passed away in 2018.  

"'June in December' is our way of honoring her legacy with personal ornaments and keepsakes donated to Mr. Local History from her estate, according to Betz.