Alberta Health Services registered nurses Laura Phillips

Festival of Trees aims to raise more than $1 million

The 19th edition of the Festival of Trees continues to work its Christmas magic.

The 19th edition of the Festival of Trees continues to work its Christmas magic.

Ticket sales are approaching near sell-outs for several of the festival’s most popular events including Breakfast with Santa and Festival of Wines.

Mistletoe Magic, the father and daughter dance, sold out within minutes after tickets went on sale on Oct. 1.

Alaine Martin, project manger, said this year’s festival is less than a month away and it’s shaping up to be a solid one.

“There’s going to be some new stuff but a lot of the favourites will still be there,” said Martin.

The festival kicks off the fun on Nov. 17 with The Festival Lights the Night (formerly The Biggest Tree Festival) and a Santa Claus Parade at City Hall Park.

The festive fun starts back on Nov. 21 and runs throughout the weekend at Westerner Park.

Candy Cane Lane and Santa’s Secret Shoppe has moved into the Parkland Pavilion and will feature a new virtual ride for the youngsters.

One of the auction items this year is the $15,000 playhouse approved by Mike Holmes, Canada’s Most Trusted Contractor. Holmes was in Red Deer in March to hammer his approval on the playhouse.

Money raised from this year’s Festival of Trees will go towards upgrading the equipment and technology at for Laboratory Services, Department of Histopathology.

Histology or pathology is the microscopic study of tissue to determine whether it is healthy or diseased.

Martin said there’s a few things on the wish list including additional microscopes and a barcoding system.

“Right now a lot of things are done by hand,” said Martin. “There’s a lot of opportunity for human error. Coding all of the samples with these barcodes minimizes the risk for errors.”

The lab tests tissue samples from 22 rural hospitals into the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre. Roughly three million samples a year come out of the lab.

The number is expected to increase with the opening of the cancer centre next year.

Last year’s festival brought in $1,020,000 compared to $875,000 in 2010. Some 23,700 people attended the event last year — nearly double the attendance in 2010. The proceeds from last year’s festival went to the improve equipment and services for the Minimally Invasive Surgery Department at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.

The goal this year is to match or surpass last year’s tally.

The public Festival hours are Nov. 23 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Nov. 24 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Nov. 25 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Westerner Park.

Ticket and festival information is available at www.reddeerfestivaloftrees.ca.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

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