Christmas comes early at Festival of Trees

If the winter wonderland outdoors hadn’t been enough to stir your Christmas spirit, the Festival of Trees would surely have done the trick.

If the winter wonderland outdoors hadn’t been enough to stir your Christmas spirit, the Festival of Trees would surely have done the trick.

The 20th version of the popular fundraiser and semi-official start to the local Christmas season was another big success this year.

All the crowd favourites were there; forests of amazingly decorated trees, angel-voiced choirs, the Sweet Shop and the ever-popular Candy Cane Lane. The Cirque de Noel, Festival Business Lunch and Tis the Season Fashion Luncheon were also well supported.

Delburne’s Tanya Richards was soaking up the Yuletide spirit with her two children and a family friend on Saturday.

Richards has lived in Brooks and Medicine Hat and said Red Deer’s festival is number one.

“It’s by far the best, it really is.”

Richard’s family came from Medicine Hat last year to visit and were so impressed by the festival they went twice, she said.

Son Easton, eight, ranked the hockey shoot-out as his personal favourite, while his 10-year-old sister Rayden figured getting a finger cast was the most fun.

Their friend Emma Svederus, 10, enjoyed making a Christmas place mat in the crafting area.

Angela Eadie-Gyori was with daughter Aislan, 11, and her friend Mia Payne, 11.

The girls said their favourite attraction were the trees. For Mia, the white-lighted trees were tops, while Aislan singled out the “sparkling ones.”

Eadie-Gyori, administrator of Sylvan Lake’s Steffie Woima Elementary School, also came to see the choir from her school perform.

The 75 students in Grades 3 to 5 did their school proud. “They were fabulous. They were outstanding,” she said.

Red Deer Regional Health Foundation project officer Alaine Martin said the festival looks to be right on track.

“Everything seems to have gone very well,” she said on Sunday afternoon.

Treacherous roads thinned out crowds on Friday morning but afternoon and weekend attendance was strong and a number of events, including Mistletoe Magic, Festival of Wines and Breakfast with Santa sold out in less than two days.

Other events, such as Tis the Season Fashion Luncheon also drew good crowds.

It’s too soon to predict the final fundraising numbers.

“It’s tough to say right now, but numbers are looking really strong so far,” she said. “But based on the event attendance and the numbers we’re pretty consistent with last year

Final tallies are expected in about two weeks.

This year’s Festival of Trees chose to raise money for diagnostic imaging, urology and the operating room. But as part of the anniversary celebration, $185,000 will also be divided among all 37 units at the hospital.

Last year the festival pulled in $1,225,000 and it has raised $9.5 million since 1994.

The ‘Trade-itional Holiday Home’ being sold in support of the 2013 Red Deer Festival of Trees was given the Mike Holmes’ ‘Holmes Approved Home’ stamp of approval by the popular TV builder. The $990,000 3,871-square-foot home is located at 3 Veronica Close in Vanier Woods East.

A conditional offer was in as of Sunday afternoon.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com