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Festival of Trees celebrates holiday season

Celebrate the magic of the holiday season and the spirit of giving with the Northern Lights Health Foundation’s Festival of Trees, presented by Syncrude. The three-day Festival takes place Friday, Nov. 14 to Sunday, Nov. 16 at MacDonald Island Park.

“Last year’s Festival was an outstanding success, raising over $430,000 (net) in support of health care in our region!,” says Jessica Musycsyn, Events Manager at the Health Foundation. “The funds raised aided in funding new medical equipment, programs and services for our community.”

This year promises to be better than ever, as the Health Foundation celebrates the 25th year of Festival of Trees in Wood Buffalo.

The Festival of Trees has a long, rich history in our community. In 1989, the first ever Festival was held at MacDonald Island Park in their banquet run and raised $10,000. Due to the massive popularity, it moved to the gymnasium at Father Mercredi High School soon afterward and eventually to the MacDonald Island Park's Community Suncor Leisure Centre.

The Festival has since grown to become a three-day event with over 12,000 guests!

“For years the event consisted of only a gala evening – with a Christmas tree live auction and Santa’s Workshop for children to enjoy,” she says. “Now the Festival boasts a variety of events; the Ladies Holiday Luncheon, Santa’s Workshop, the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, the Family Skating Party, local community entertainment during the tree viewing, Gala and Christmas Family Fun with Santa.”

The ever-popular Ladies Holiday Luncheon increased its guest count from 250 to 300 this year, selling out five weeks in advance. According to Musycsyn, the luncheon will be more fabulous than ever.

“The swag bags are full of awesome goodies. We’ll once again feature local retailers and models in a fashion show for the ladies, silent auction, welcome mocktails and a delicious lunch!” she says. “We also have the amazing Melanie Ference, owner of Chocolates and Candlelight will grace the ladies as emcee!”

Bring your kids to Santa’s Workshop, full of fun activities and crafts. Bring a favourite teddy bear to the Teddy Bear Hospital, check out the raffles, have your picture taken with Santa and shop at the gift shops. Families are also invited to enjoy skating, cookies and hot chocolate at the Family Skating Party.

The Christmas Family Fun with Santa, sponsored by Suncor, will also be a chance to enjoy quality family time. This exciting new event will include performances by local community groups, and have scenes and carols from Keyano Theatre’s Production; A Christmas Carol!

“Kids will have a chance to meet Scrooge himself, take photos with the cast and take your shot at winning the Gingerbread House Contest,” says Musycsyn. “Don’t miss the fun at this year’s new Festival of Trees event. In addition to the entertainment, Bearstone Bakery will be on site with treats to keep all tummies happy.”

The second annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Party will be a chance for the community to dance, socialize and show off your favourite ugly Christmas sweater.

“Opening band Tequila Mockingbird will hit the stage before headliners and East Coast favourite Signal Hill blow fans away with a performance!” says Musycsyn. “Amazing raffles, 50/50 and best ugly sweater contest will be sure to keep guests entertained throughout the evening.”

Celebrate the 25th anniversary of Festival of Trees with the Health Foundation at the Silver Anniversary Gala.

“This glamourous evening is signature to the holiday season in Fort McMurray. Stunning Christmas trees are auctioned in addition to exciting raffles, live entertainment, dance and silent auction,” says Musycsyn.

Volunteers are key to the success of Festival of Trees year after year. Approximately 300 volunteers graciously gave their time to help support last year’s events, assisting with a variety of tasks such as setting up Santa’s Workshop, selling 50/50 tickets at the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, selling teddy bears for the Tree of Hope, helping set up for the Gala and helping with stations in Santa’s workshop.

This year, a variety of volunteer roles are available such as décor assistants, Santa’s Workshop helpers, admission attendants and more!
“Volunteering for Festival is a great way to give back to the community. You can check out an event without paying the ticket price. It’s great for resume building, and is wonderful networking,” says Musycsyn. “Volunteer swag and food will also be provided.”

Find out more information on the 2014 Festival of Trees here


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