Red Deer’s Festival of Trees 2014 raised $1.07 million to improve maternity care at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.
Festival organizers said record cold temperatures resulted in lower attendance this year but the annual holiday fundraising event held Nov. 26 to 30 at Westerner Park still attracted 22,000 visitors.
“We’re thrilled, of course, to get over $1 million in a year when it was so cold out. It was very noticeable that our numbers would be down for attendance on our public days. Our events were very well attended so the support was still there for them,” said Alaine Martin, project officer with Red Deer Regional Health Foundation, on Wednesday.
Extreme cold always affect attendance, she said.
Last year, the festival raised a record-breaking $1.28 million and hit an all-time attendance high with 24,300 visitors.
This year, the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation is contributing just over $1 million of the money raised to fully equip two dedicated operating rooms to be built adjacent to the Maternity Unit for scheduled caesarean sections and emergency obstetrical procedures.
Alberta Health Services is contributing $9.7 million to the project.
Construction is expected to get underway early next year.
To date, Festival of Trees has raised over $11.8 million over the past 21 years.
Last month’s festival was put on with the help of 2,600 volunteers.
Martin said Red Deer is a pretty incredible community.
“Every year it’s just very humbling to have the kind of support we get from however people choose or are able to contribute. If it’s through money, through attendance, through time, through items — everyone gives in the way that they can or that gives them pleasure.”