Terrace’s first-ever Festival of Mini-Trees raised $6,600 to be put towards the Dr. R.E.M. Lee Hospital Foundation’s goal to purchase a new ophthalmic surgical microscope.
From Nov. 29 to 30 at the Evangelical Free Church, dozens of people came to take photos with Santa, drink hot mulled cider and admire 20 uniquely decorated trees that were then claimed by raffle winners at the end of the event.
“It was a nice kickoff to the Christmas season beautiful music… we were creating memories for lots of families who came through,” says Heather Bellamy, administrative assistant for the Dr. R.E.M. Lee Hospital Foundation. “People even stayed around to sit and enjoy the music.”
Bellamy says the Festival of Mini-Trees is an annual Christmas fundraiser run by many other hospital foundations across Canada, and although they had thought about it before, it wasn’t until the local Canadian Tire donated 20 real trees, valued a total of $2,000, to finally kickstart the event in Terrace.
“That was huge because if the owner said no, I probably wouldn’t have done it this year,” she explains. “He was amazing and was willing to fund us by giving us these trees, it’s a huge thing for the community.”
Other local businesses then jumped onto the bandwagon and donated items like gift cards and merchandise to decorate the trees with. Each tree was valued between $200 to $400 to encourage event-goers to purchase raffle tickets in hopes of bringing their favourite one home.
“People who won the trees were thrilled because there was a lot on the trees there,” she says. “It was very well-received, 20 families went home with ready-made Christmas trees and lots of fun was had.”
She says the festival was a big hit and lots of people were impressed with how well-decorated the trees were. A top pick for many kids was the “Minion tree” which was covered in recognizable movie characters with one big Minion on top in place of a star.
Other memorable ones included the “pet lover tree” decked with lots of toys and treats, the “Prevost tree” that had a gas firepit, cook stove and emergency blankets, and two other trees which included two sets of round-trip flight tickets donated by Central Mountain Air.
Alongside the row of Christmas trees were many volunteers instrumental in making the magic happened. Musicians Debbie Toovey, Rene Therrien with his Spring Fever band, The Adventists Carolers and the Skeena Middle School Santa Band gave their time to play seasonal tunes. Members of the Mills Memorial Hospital department helped set the winter wonderland and build the barn stage.
Santa was played by six different volunteers, including the Terrace Standard’s own publisher Bert Husband. Bellamy says their Old Nick costume was a vintage handmade Nordic Santa suit she purchased online from Moscow, Russia.
“I was looking for something a little more classic, like the Father Christmas look since everyone’s sick of the fat fuzzy Santa,” says Bellamy with a laugh. “We wanted it to be a classy thing that people would be happy to jump into.”
Given its success and positive feedback, Bellamy says they are planning to continue the Festival of Mini-Trees in Terrace for years to come.