Santa Claus kicks off Red Deer’s annual Festival of Trees on Tuesday with a parade to City Hall and lighting of the Biggest Christmas Tree.
Staff at City Hall will light their array of Christmas trees at 6 p.m., with the parade to follow at 6:15 p.m., working its way south on 48th Avenue and then west to 49th Avenue and back to City Hall Park for the grand finale.
The Santa Claus Parade and tree lighting heralds a series of celebrations that, since its inception in 1994, has become a major fundraiser for special projects at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.
This year, the Festival of Trees committee is raising money toward establishing a colorectal cancer screening clinic.
The festival has grown significantly since its first edition in 1994, when it raised $28,509 for the hospital laboratory. It first broke $100,000 in 1998 and reached $1.1 million in 2007. Last year’s event raised $753,000 to augment the hospital’s maternal child care program.
This year, the festival committee has chosen Christmas Around the World as its theme.
Organizers anticipate about 1,800 volunteers and 24,000 attendees will take part in the festival and in the special events to be held throughout the week. While most ticketed special events have sold out, there are still tickets available for the final brunch on Sunday.
Among the popular events that are sold out are the Seniors Silver Bells Luncheon, Festival of Wines, Teddy Bear Breakfast, ’Tis the Season fashion show, Mistletoe Magic father daughter evening.
The Festival of Trees main show will be set up at Westerner Park throughout next weekend, running Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 27 to 29. Doors are open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for seniors 60 and older, $3 for students (12 to 17), $2 for children and free for those under three years old.
Visit www.reddeerfestivaloftrees or call the DTHR Foundation at 403-343-4773 to learn more.
Other Festival of Trees special events that the public can enjoy include:
l Taste of Red Deer from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, with a number of local restaurants offering a selection of their favourite desserts. Participating restaurants include Restaurant 27, Earl’s, Red Deer College, Keg Steakhouse & Bar, Opa’s Souvlaki, Botanica in the Red Deer Lodge, Tony Roma’s, Albert’s Family Restaurant and Let Them Eat Cake. Dessert tickets are $1 each.
l Festival Finale brunch on Sunday (Nov. 29) with entertainment by the Red Deer College Symphonic Winds, from noon to 2 p.m. in the Prairie Pavilion. Tickets are $22 for adults, $11 for children five to 11 and $3 for children under five, available from Ticketmaster.