The annual Festival of Trees has returned to Lake Square Mall this month with a display of trees decorated for the holidays with handmade ornaments created by Lake County Schools students.

The display includes 30 pre-lit, 7-foot trees that will be available for viewing and in-person bidding. The auction ends on Nov. 28, after the Spectacle of Sparkling Trees, the mall’s family-fun tree-lighting event, which will include Victorian carolers, a visit from Santa Claus, free cookies and hot cocoa. Winners will be announced on Nov. 30.

“We could not think of a better way to bring the spirit of the season to the Square than through the eyes of our talented local students,” said Jessica Krieger, marketing spokeswoman for the mall. “Proceeds will go right back into our schools to support the arts. There’s no better gift than to help support the education of our students!”

Because of the pandemic, trees on display at the mall will also be shown online. Bids will be accepted through the designated website starting Nov. 22, to minimize crowds and allow for social distancing at the mall.

“We invite the public to celebrate the season with us,” Lake County Schools Superintendent Diane Kornegay said. “The creativity of our students will be on display at the mall and online, so everyone can safely see these beautifully decorated trees and submit a bid. Every dollar raised will go to support arts programs in our schools, and we know involvement in the arts can improve students’ motivation, confidence and teamwork while also helping them make gains in math, reading, critical thinking and other academic areas.”