Festival of Trees goes virtual to raise money for Alzheimer’s research


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A popular Edmonton holiday fundraiser for local health care, seemingly killed by the pandemic, has been revived by technology.

Back in late April of this year, it was announced that the Festival of Trees — the 36-year-old festival that has raised more than $20 million for the University Hospital Foundation, which includes the University of Alberta, Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute and Kaye Edmonton Clinic — was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“It was pretty devastating for the volunteers to have to make that decision to cancel for this year,” said Beryl Bacchus, chairwoman for the 2020 Festival of Trees.

But a few weeks after the announcement, the idea of doing something virtual was brought up.

“We said, ‘Why don’t we do just a few virtual initiatives that are reflective of the festival?’ ” said Bacchus.

The festival, which normally would be held at the Edmonton Convention Centre, will now be held in your home with a virtual Christmas experience.