Always a highlight of Winter WonderFest are the over-the-top thematic trees. Each tree gets decked out with hundreds of lights & ornaments. This year we pushed to get more “themes” on the trees. It was great fun coming up with the concepts and seeing them through to installation. It’s been a busy week getting everything ready… and Winter WonderFest opens today at Navy Pier. Bring the kids down for hours of ice skating, amusement park rides and bouncy, inflatable fun… and you can enjoy the thematic trees! Some of the trees were designed to sit on top of larger “planter boxes” with seating on both sides. It was a nice challenge to design tree themes in “trios” so that the planter box had an overall concept, along with a different theme for each tree. Exotic Travel Destinations… China, Hawaii & Mexico. Deconstructed Disney… Ariel, Peter Pan & Belle. Masters of Modern Art… Piet Mondrian, Jackson Pollock & Roy Lichtenstein. Vintage Kids Games… Barrel O’Monkeys, Ker’plunk & Clue. After the theme trios in the planter boxes, the remaining trees sit around the room individually. Each with a different theme of its own. Santa’s Scavenger Hunt… an interactive list to see what spilled out of Santa’s bag. Shedd Aquarium… dedicated to the underwater beauty at the Shedd Aquarium. Peacock Plumage… with feathers gracefully draping & transforming down the tree. A Snowy Vintage Christmas… rustic toys & lacy snowflakes tumbling down. See, Money DOES Grow On Trees! … just what you’ve always wanted! Mardi Gras… let’s get the party started! Lincoln Log Cabin… with copper Lincoln pennies & cabins made of Lincoln Logs! Bollywood… festive colors, fabrics, textures, lanterns & traditional elements. Mad Hatter… crazy fun toppling out from his trademark hat! Duck Dynasty… complete with ducks & bearded ornaments! A Holiday No-L… nope, the L didn’t fall off, it’s part of the joke. See?… No L. Fall Harvest… pumpkins, gourds, corn, apples and bedazzled shafts of wheat. Chicago’s Instagram… local landmarks and their trending hashtags! Contemporary Grays & Greens… a sleek color palette with a touch of whimsy! A Holiday Overture… a rich blend of reds & golds hitting all the right notes! And as if that weren’t enough… then we went UPSIDE DOWN!!! Yes, three of the specialty trees are designed as upside-down trees. Each supported by a bricked pillar so guests get to look up & into the tree as they walk by. Vivaldi’s Four Seasons… with each season on a different side of the same tree! Ice Cream Cone… with just a smidge dripping over the edge! Outer Space… complete with flashing strobes on the spaceship! So there they are, all thirty specialty theme trees on display at Navy Pier’s Winter WonderFest. Make plans for a day on The Pier… it’s open through January 12, 2014.