The Sooke Festival of Trees is back at SEAPARC Leisure Complex and the bright lights and cheery decorations are enough to make even the most Grinch-like among us smile.
“Having the trees up here at SEAPARC makes such a difference. It puts everyone in a Christmas spirit and it’s especially wonderful that it’s all being done for a really great cause,” Colleen Hoglund, SEAPARC program services manager, said.
It’s the 11th year the Sooke festival has participated as a supporting event of a larger effort that raises money for the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation.
Based in Victoria at the Bay Centre, the Festival of Trees has welcomed Sooke, Nanaimo, Whistler and Kelowna into the fold to run their own Christmas Tree events.
The concept is simple.
Businesses and organizations in the community pay a flat rate to participate and are given a tree to decorate in whatever style they choose.
“We always have very beautiful and very imaginative trees,” Hoglund said.
“For example, this year the Rotary Club decorated their tree with a variety of socks, all of which they’ll donate to the less fortunate after Christmas.”
In addition to the funds raised through the original tree donation, people coming to see the trees are given the chance to vote for their favourite tree and make a donation along with their ballot.
It’s a system that raised more than $3,000 last year in Sooke.
Across the province, a total of $387,659 was raised to help provide kids with the best health care available.
This year’s Festival of Trees is organized by the Sooke Harbourside Lions Club.
“We were excited when SEAPARC approached us to help out and we jumped at the chance,” Brenda Brown, the event co-ordinator, said.
“I mean, we get to work with folks to celebrate Christmas and at the same time we’re helping to raise money for this fantastic cause. What could be better?”
In addition to the SEAPARC display of trees, the Lions have approached local businesses to place special trees at their place of business.
“There’s only so much room at SEAPARC, so we went to businesses and asked them to place trees and become part of the festival,” Brown said.
“When you go to SEAPARC, we’ll let you know which businesses are participating and you can visit them as well before you decide on the best tree.”
The Festival of Trees runs until Jan. 6.