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First Festival of Trees was a hit

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Prysm Gooding (L) and Haley Bonokoski (R) met Santa Claus during the community event for the St. Joseph's Hospital Foundation's Festival of Trees.

The inaugural St. Joseph's Hospital Festival of Trees proved to be a big success, as hundreds of people attended the festivities.

A community celebration on November 29 attracted more than 650 people to the Wylie-Mitchell building. Children enjoyed crafts, a scavenger hunt and a visit with Santa Claus. There was also live music, a bake sale and more.

People could also bid on wreaths or one of a dozen Christmas trees that were available through a silent auction, or they could place an angel, in honour of a loved one, on a memory tree.

A banquet and auction on November 30 attracted more than 250 people, and generated a lot of money for the foundation's coffers. Highlights included a Christmas feast, live and silent auctions, and music from Canadian comedy music trio the Arrogant Worms.

The live auction featured trips, guitars, Christmas trees and more, and it grossed tens of thousands of dollars.

Foundation executive director Becky Conly said that not only did the event raise money for the foundation, but it generated awareness, too.

"We had over 900 people in total who participated in the weekend," said Conly. "Everybody knew about it, it was a really wonderful event and we had a lot of good comments about it."

Several community leaders, including Mayor Roy Ludwig and Estevan MLA Doreen Eagles, spoke at the banquet and paid tribute to the work of the foundation.

Hospital executive director Greg Hoffort reminded the audience that the foundation is the primary source of funding for capital equipment at the hospital. He saluted the business community for their support.

The Arrogant Worms sang some of their most popular songs, including "The Last Saskatchewan Pirate," and performed some of their original Christmas tunes as well. Conly said the band provided an outstanding entertainment value.

"The Festival of Trees is going to become an annual event, and hopefully it will just continue to grow, with more trees and more entries of different things," said Conly.

The foundation's board will look at the hospital's wish list, and decide which items to purchase through funds generated by the Festival of Trees.


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