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'Elf Emporium' for Festival of Trees is woman's dying wish

Patti Evershed Peterson poses with friends and family at a sneak peak of the Elf Emporium for this year's Festival of Trees. Peterson wanted the display to be her "last legacy," as she is dying of cancer. (Jack Grimm, KSL-TV)

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Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — The Festival of Trees is an annual tradition for many in the state of Utah.

The event raises money for the Primary Children's Hospital, but if you go this year, there's something else that just might steal the show.

KSL's Alex Cabrero got a sneak peek and found the woman behind part of it all wanted it to be her last wish.

Halloween is still a week away, and Thanksgiving is next month, but at Lowell Construction, located off 1035 South in Salt Lake City, it was time for a Christmas party.

Patti Evershed Peterson couldn't wait.

"I love Christmas," she said with a big smile. "I love the smells, I love the decorations, I love the feeling."

She's had a lifetime of that Christmas spirit and wanted to feel it one more time before the Grinch known as cancer — well, chances are Peterson isn't going to make it to December.

"No, I can't change this," she said. "There's nothing I can do about it, so why not make the most of it? There's nothing I can do except to acknowledge it and make the most of it."

So, that's what she's doing.

She and her family and friends gathered at her brother's shop Saturday to celebrate her life.

"I don't have many weeks left, but I will leave with this wonderful legacy," she told the crowd.

Patti Evershed Peterson wanted the Elf Emporium to be her "last legacy," as she is dying of cancer.
Patti Evershed Peterson wanted the Elf Emporium to be her "last legacy," as she is dying of cancer. (Photo: Jack Grimm, KSL-TV)

That's also why everyone gathered at the construction business — so Peterson could see for the first time what she wanted as her last wish and enduring legacy.

Peterson volunteers with the Festival of Trees, which raises money for Primary Children's Hospital.

This year, she was in charge of making the Elf Emporium part of the festival, but because she recently found out she was running out of time, she asked her family if she could borrow their time.

"I just sent them an email saying, "I'm dying and I want this to be my last legacy," she said.

Since her family owns this construction company, they understand the importance of finishing projects on time.

"I said, 'Patti, you're going to see this,'" said Gary Evershed, who is Patti Peterson's brother. "And she said, 'I don't know if I'll make it to Thanksgiving.' And I said, 'You're going to see this.'"

They built it in less than three weeks.

Lots of workers chipped in time to make sure it got done.

"I loved doing every minute of this and I hated doing every minute of this," said Evershed.

On Saturday, though, the tears were happy tears.

Patti Peterson got to see her finished project and be with her whole family for a Christmas celebration none of them will ever forget.

"Your family and your faith and serving others, that's all that matters," she said.

The Festival of Trees is set to open Dec. 1 at the Mountain America Expo Center in Sandy.


Alex Cabrero


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