This year’s Festival of Trees, which is being held online due to COVID-19, wraps up next Saturday. (Contributed photo)

This year’s Festival of Trees, which is being held online due to COVID-19, wraps up next Saturday. (Contributed photo)

Online Festival of Trees a success so far, with one week to go

This year’s Festival of Trees has been a success so far, despite the COVID-19 pandemic interfering with original plans for the annual event.

“All things considered, everything is going as well as it can be,” said Travis Kuschminder, marketing and communications manager for the Red Deer Health Foundation, which hosts the event every year to support the local hospital.

“We obviously planned for a full-on festival – it would have been a bit modified, of course. But with the recent government restriction tightening, starting on Nov. 13, we had to change. Just as a precaution and to set an example to the community, we closed it to the public.”

The event, which runs until next Saturday, launched online Nov. 14. People can see pictures, watch virtual tours and bid in a silent auction, or immediately buy the items in the tree room, which is located inside Bower Place mall.

“You can stop and look into the room, but you can’t walk through it. You can stand there and take a peak inside to see the beautiful trees,” he said.

“A lot of work goes into planning this event year round – a lot of volunteers, a lot of time spent organizing, planning and even setup is a lot of work.

“It is disappointing people can’t walk through, but given the current circumstances, it was the right thing to do.”

The 2020 Festival of Trees is running longer than events in previous years.

“We’ve got another week to go for the auction. We anticipate some down-to-the-wire bidding to round out the week on Nov. 28, when the auction closes at eight o’clock.”

Proceeds from this year’s festival will be used to support the transition to an electronic system of fetal monitoring for the labour and delivery unit at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre and other rural health-care facilities in the central zone.

Fetal heart rates are monitored during pregnancy, labour and birth to assess the baby’s well-being.

Currently, in the Red Deer hospital and rural centres, fetal heart rate tracings are captured through bedside monitors that print paper records and can only be viewed while at the machine.

The Festival of Trees also introduced its Christmas Jingle Cash Lottery this year. The top prize is $10,000.

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