The Ponoka and District Health Foundation (PDHF) is planning a triumphant return to an in-person, live Festival of Trees event after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chairperson Dorothy Ungstad said she feels “really great, but maybe a bit anxious,” for the return of the event this year, but is optimistic everything will go well.
Several sponsors have stepped up to support events or donate auction items, and the ladies’ auxiliary at the hospital and other volunteers have been great with helping to decorate trees and wreaths, said Ungstad.
The PDHF is a registered charity established to coordinate, manage and utilize donated funds at the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre and the Ponoka Community Health Centre.
Last year, the foundation held an “Un-festival of Trees,” raising more than $75,000 for long-term care beds and mattresses.
This year’s fundraising goal is $125,000 for for five Space Lab Healthcare Qubes (three mounted and two portable monitors).
The hospital already has some monitors, but the addition of more of the life-saving cardiac monitors will ensure more monitors are in the emergency department to serve more patients, said Ungstad.
PDHF has hired decorator and event planner Diane Rose of Rose Creations as event coordinator to bring the theme of “Diamonds and Snowflakes” to life.
“I’m excited and over the moon about it,” said Rose, who is currently very busy organizing and planning all the details of the four-day festival.
Four days of events
Things kick off Thursday, Dec. 1, with an opening night gala and auction, starting at 5 p.m. Enjoy dinner, a live auction, friendly bidding and the first look at the gift shop and the decorated Christmas trees.
The silent auction starts that night and will close at midnight on Saturday.
On Friday, there will be the Seniors Snowflakes and Coffee in the morning and the Ladies Wine Night black dress event in the evening.
Entertainment for the seniors’ event, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., will feature “The Educators,” a band of local retired teachers.
There will be a separate silent auction table with items for seniors, as well as a draw for two $250 grocery gift cards.
Tickets for the seniors event are going fast and can be found at Ponoka Family and Community Support Services, the Battle River Medical Clinic, or by calling Ungstad at 403-783-2276.
A night out for the ladies, there will be live, music, appetizers, and of course, lots of wine at Ladies Wine Night, starting at 6 p.m.
Performing for the evening will be Richard and Debra Popovich, singers from Red Deer.
There will be live auctions Thursday and Friday evening. Auction items will include:
– a trip for two to see the Blue Jays play in Toronto;
– a trip for two to for a weekend at a Canmore spa;
– trees decorated in the themes of chocolate and candy, wine, hard liquor, beer, and tools;
– a diamond necklace and earrings, and
– a half-steer.
Family Fun Day will be held on Saturday, Dec. 3, from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., and 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
The event will feature photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, a petting zoo and Kyle the Magician. There will also be candy bags, gingerbread cookies and other activities.
Food tickets for a hot dog, chips and a pop or coffee will be available at the event.
The Sensitive Santa event will be on Sunday, Dec. 4, along with an open house for the viewing of all the trees.
Sensitive Santa provides a calmer and smaller setting for children wanting to meet Santa.
The Sensitive Santa event is free-of-charge and interested parents can contact Rose at 403-597-1054.
The viewing of the trees open house will be from 12 to 2 p.m. on Dec. 4.
All events will be held at the Stagecoach Saloon on the Stampede Grounds.
Tickets to events can be found on Eventbrite or by contacting Rose.
The Festival of Trees was looking for a new home to store their trees and other items as well as having a space for decorating, and as of the end of September, they found it.
The moved into a small, white building with an office, located at the west side of Sommer, this fall.
Ungstad said they were very fortunate to be allowed the use of the building, which includes two bathrooms and a kitchen, for a very low rent.
While they are still using a big garage provided by the Town of Ponoka, they will be housed in the Sommer building indefinitely.