Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

December 5, 2013

Simply 'enchanted'

Andover tree decorator strings fourth festival win

By Judy Wakefield

---- — It’s starting to appear Andover’s Brenda Afshin has the Midas touch. And she knows how to use it on Christmas trees.

For the fourth consecutive year, the Lowell Junction Road resident has decorated her way to one of the top awards at the annual Festival of Trees fundraiser in Methuen.

For this year’s creation, Afshin sought to celebrate the festival’s 20th emerald anniversary.

She crafted an “Enchanted Evergreen” tree featuring fairies with motorized wings set against shimmery hues of blues and greens and twinkling white lights.

It was picked by an independent panel of judges as the “Most Beautiful,” beating out some 240 trees and wreaths for the honor.

Afshin said she felt like she was at the Oscars when she was called to accept her prize — a beautiful Waterford crystal Christmas tree.

“I felt like I was on the red carpet when I got the award,” giggled the very artistic Afshin, who is known around Andover for her terrific decorations at the Crystal Ballroom events.

This year’s judges were Amy Coveno of WMUR-TV Channel 9, June Wulff of The Boston Globe, Lisa Prezzano of Merrimack Valley Magazine and Rosemary Ford of The Eagle-Tribune.

A public school nurse at the Arlington School in Lawrence, Afshin rents an artist studio at the Everett Mills in Lawrence.

She said she draws inspiration from Lawrence’s rich history and once decorated a Christmas tree themed around the city’s well-known Bread and Roses strike of 1912. That tree, complete with the Ayer clock, was also a winner at Methuen’s Festival of Trees.

In addition to drawing on the city scenes visible from her loft space for inspiration, Afshin, who also runs youth enrichment programs in Lawrence, said she finds herself motivated by those who admire her work, too.

“People always ask me, “How did you do that?’ That reaction keeps me going,” she said.


Anyone who wants to check our Afshin’s “Enchanted” creation will have to act fast. The two-week Festival of Trees runs through Saturday, Dec. 7, at Valley Office Park, 13 Branch St., Methuen. All 240 trees and wreaths will be raffled off on the final day.

Admission to the festival is $8 to $10, with children 12 and under invited for free. For more, visit

For a sneak peak of Afshin’s “Enchanted Evergreen,” check out this YouTube link at