Festival of Trees, which was held at Westerner Park over the past two weekends, came to an end Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Red Deer Regional Health Foundation)

Festival of Trees, which was held at Westerner Park over the past two weekends, came to an end Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Red Deer Regional Health Foundation)

Volunteer efforts praised as Red Deer’s Festival of Trees ends

Festival of Trees would not have been possible without the efforts of hundreds of volunteers, says the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation’s chief executive officer.

The annual holiday-themed event, which features dozens of specially designed Christmas trees and raises money for the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre, wrapped up at Westerner Park Sunday, after spreading holiday cheer over the past two weekends.

“We couldn’t do any of this without our volunteers. There’s so much to do here in terms of the setup and tear down,” Manon Therriault said, adding more volunteers were going to be on-site following the event to wrap up the trees so they can get delivered to the winning bidders.

“There are hundreds who come by and get this set up for us. They’re amazing. Just amazing people. Some of the people here helping set up have been doing this since the beginning (of Festival of Trees), so it’s nice to see them return.”

This year’s event was a bit more normal than last year’s, when people weren’t able to walk through the tree room, which was set up at Bower Place mall instead of Westerner Park, due to COVID-19.

“Last year being 100 per cent virtual I think it was a little bit tough for the sponsors, the volunteers, the team and the community because we are the kickoff to Christmas,” Therriault said.

“To be able to have the public come through this year was wonderful. To see people come in to enjoy the trees and to see kids taking photos in our selfie booth and take in Candy Cane Lane activities, there was some form of normalcy there. It felt really nice.”

The Preview Dinner, Festival of Wines and Mistletoe Magic did not return at this year’s Festival of Trees. But the foundation is hoping these will return at next year’s event.

Money raised through this year’s event will be used for “critically needed equipment in the operating room to help provide a higher level of service to central Albertans,” the Festival of Trees website states.

Specifically, the money will fund seven different types of equipment that will touch every area of the OR, said Therriault.

“The OR has really suffered over COVID in terms of cancellations of procedures and funding cuts. They are eternally grateful we are supporting this year,” she said.



sean.mcintosh@reddeeradvocate.com

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