One of the signature events of the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation is the Festival of Trees. A the end of November, Festival of Trees signals the kick off to the Christmas season in Central Alberta.
The 25th anniversary of Festival of Trees is in 2018. The previous 23 festivals (1994-2016) have raised $13,880,513 and funded major projects for the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre such as:
1. Two new operating rooms in labour and delivery;
2. Renovation and expansion of the Medical Specialty Clinic;
3. Diagnostic Imaging, Urology &Operating Room equipment
4. Laboratory Services upgrades to the Dept. of Histopathology
5. Special Care Nursery equipment
6. Plus, there are 18 more projects that the Festival of Trees has funded
The first festival to kick it all off started in 1994 raising $28, 509 and funding Laboratory Services in the hospital.
Joan Donald and Val Sandall were the first two co-chairs, and would co-chair the event for the next 2 years. Since that time, Festival proceeds have grown from $28,000 to over a million dollars annually! Festival has always funded or been part of collaborative funding with Alberta Health Services for major projects within the hospital.
The Festival of Trees is largely a volunteer driven event utilizing over 2,000 volunteers every year. Over the course of five days in November, our volunteers collectively put in thousands of hours to make this amazing event happen. In fact, we have many volunteers who have been here since the start. There are over 20 volunteer committees that comprise the Festival of Trees, and each represents a different event or activity within the Festival.
Activities include the ever popular Candy Cane Lane; a place for visitors of all ages to participate in arts and crafts or fun games to play. Be sure to keep an eye out for Mrs. Claus and all the special guests who make appearances. The main stage in the tree room hosts school choirs not only from Red Deer but from several communities within Central Alberta.
There are also several ticketed events during Festival. The week kicks off with Preview Dinner – an opportunity to say thank you to all the generous donors who contribute to this event. During Preview Dinner our donors have an opportunity to preview the trees and find out more about the cause for the year.
One of our most popular events is Mistletoe Magic– our daddy/daughter dance. When tickets go on sale the first Monday of October, this event usually sells out in less than 10 minutes.
And, we can’t forget about the trees. Many, many people decorate and bring in their trees for display and auction for the Festival. The creativity and time that are put into these trees is amazing. Every year people dream up new themes, and the results are always beautiful, one of a kind trees.
Although the Festival of Trees is a community event supported by over 20,000 visitors annually, it is ultimately a fundraising event for the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre. Every admission or games ticket purchased, every raffle ticket and every donation helps fund a major project at the hospital. In turn, that project enhances health care leading to better outcomes for all Central Albertans.
We truly appreciate the support that Central Albertans provide by attending this event. Every dollar counts to help fund these initiatives and we sincerely thank you.
Iaian Park is the executive director of the Red Deer Regional Hospital Foundation.