The 2016 Festival of Trees raises an “astounding” amount

Organizers say it shows Red Deer-area residents support their hospital

Red Deer’s Festival of Trees organizers heaved a big sigh of relief this week.

After paring down festival costs and restructuring events in light of the difficult economy, total proceeds for the 2016 show were calculated to be $950,000.

It’s an “astounding” amount that will go towards service expansions at the Red Deer hospital’s medical specialty clinics, said Alaine Martin, events manager for the festival’s organizing body, the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation.

A large portion of the funds will allow a local Parkinson’s Clinic to open for the first time.

While last year’s festival raised $1.06 million, targets were lowered in response to high levels of unemployment in the area and the fact many businesses were unable to continue with sponsorships.

To have still raised close to $1 million sends a message that Red Deer and Central Alberta residents believe in the cause of hospital services, added Martin.

This year’s Festival of Trees ran Nov 23-27 at the Westerner through the efforts of 2,500 local volunteers. Support was received from 500 donors, and 1,500 volunteer entertainers.

About 23,000 Central Albertans enjoyed the festival, which included seven special events, a tree auction, silent auction, gift shop, Santa’s Secret Shoppe for kids to buy Christmas presents, the Candy Cane Lane activities area, and other features.

Starting in January, organizers will be planning the 2017 festival, which will run Nov. 22 to 26.

So far, the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation has raised more than $13.8 million for equipment and services at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

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