Larger than life. Isabella Sweet takes a look at the large Christmas Trees on display.

Larger than life. Isabella Sweet takes a look at the large Christmas Trees on display.

Inaugural Festival of Trees garners huge success

Ponoka’s first annual Legacy Ford Festival of Trees ended Saturday Nov. 15 and the results far surpassed anyone’s expectations.

Ponoka’s first annual Legacy Ford Festival of Trees ended Saturday Nov. 15 and the results far surpassed anyone’s expectations.

Co-organizer Sherry Gummow says a lot of individuals came into the event not quite knowing what to expect or what it was about and that may have led to a few minor kinks.

“I think we exceeded our wildest dreams,” said co-organizer Sherry Gummow.

The Nov. 13 live auction gala and dinner kicked off the event with the twinkle of thousands of Christmas tree lights and festive holiday spirit as celebrated charity auctioneer and entertainer Danny Hooper sold six trees and numerous other items, such as a trip to Cancun, Broadway tickets, golf packages, the president’s box for the Ponoka Stampede, high school tutoring, hair care, fashion gift certificates and children’s John Deer equipment.

The auction brought in $39,925 with proceeds going to the Ponoka Hospital Foundation with a focus on the pediatric wing.

Hooper was not shy about pushing the cause and the auction began with a $10,000 donation from Gary Kohlman after Hooper asked if there was anyone in the crowd who would step forward and sponsor a fully stocked emergency cart.

Other donations were made by Tyler Fessler, $1,000; Pat Boardman, $1,000; Sherrie Meilleur, $1,000; Jorgenson Homes, $2,500; Gail Zerbe, $200 and Amelia Naismith, $200. This brought the total amount raised to $15,900 before the actual auction had even begun.

“I think the Hospital Foundation will be very pleased,” said Gummow.

Other top selling items of the evening included the Cancun trip, $3,000; the Cervus Equipment Tree, $2,600; the Wine Tree, $2,300 and the Legacy Ford Tree, $2,200.

“I think it was exceptional,” said Gummow, referring to community support.

“It was a wonderful atmosphere,” said Hooper.

Between events such as the Gala, Breakfast with Santa, general viewing and a Seniors’ Tea, the festival saw as many and 850 attendees. The Breakfast with Santa was an oversold event.

“We kind of had some target,” said Gummow, referring to how many people were expected to attend the event over the course of its three days.

“Obviously, the community is very passionate about health care . . . the difference between good health care and great health care is philanthropy,” said Hooper.

“When it comes to kids, they hold a soft spot in some people’s hearts,” he added.

“It was just a general success,” said Gummow. “Ponoka must have been ready for something like this because they really stepped up.”

Each tree had a theme pertaining to the sponsoring business and Gummow made sure to thank the sponsors and the talented decorators, as planning for the event began with preliminaries in March and became heavy over the summer. “We couldn’t have done it without our sponsors.”

“The wonderful volunteers did a wonderful job organizing a first-time event, they did a lot of work,” said Hooper.

“The bar has been set for next year,” said Gummow.

See many more event photos in this week’s paper.