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Irricana Library to host modified Festival of Trees this year

Continuing COVID-19 restrictions will not stop the Irricana & Rural Municipal Library from hosting another Festival of Trees fundraiser, though the event may look a little different this year than it did in the past.
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The Festival of Trees fundraiser will return again this year to the Irricana & Rural Municipal Library, although it may be a little different this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Ongoing COVID-19 restrictions will not stop the Irricana & Rural Municipal Library from hosting another Festival of Trees fundraiser, though the event may look a little different in 2021 than it did in previous years.

“Because of COVID-19, we have decided to do it virtually,” said Papari Borthakur, the library’s manager.

In a normal year, Borthakur said people would submit decorated Christmas trees, wreaths, centerpieces, and ornaments to display at the library, and people would be able to come take a look before participating in the silent auction portion to bid on the submitted trees.

This year, while people will still be able to go and check out the trees in person, Borthakur said capacity restrictions will not allow for organizers to host the event the way they normally would.

“This time, the voting is done more on the website,” she said. “People can still come into the library, we just can’t have a lot of people at the same time.”

As the event was cancelled last year due to COVID-19 restrictions, Borthakur said she is just happy to be able to put on the Festival of Trees once again, regardless of any modifications.

In previous years, according to Borthakur, Santa Claus would also be in attendance around the time the Town hosts its Christmas Festival during the first week of December, but that may not be the case this year.

“There probably won’t be a Santa in attendance, but it depends on the weather,” she said. “If the weather isn’t bad, people can line up outside, and if it permits, we may be able to still have Santa Claus in attendance.”

In 2019, which was the last year the fundraiser was held, the library saw around 400 visitors who lined up to see all of the tree submissions.

Borthakur said the Festival of Trees attracts people from all over the region.

“Families drive out here to see the trees,” she said. “[One] year, we also partnered with Community Links for a toy drive.”

The fundraiser helps support library operations. Borthakur said the funds received from the Festival of Trees are important because while funding from the provincial government and the Town of Irricana comprise a good portion of the library’s operating costs, more is needed for the facility to continue offering all of the public services it does.

While the main goal is fundraising, she said the Festival of Trees is also an important showcase of community spirit and team building, as so many people get involved with the event every holiday season.

“Fundraising is one aspect, but I would also say this is about community building,” she said. “You work together with so many different organizations. You work with the Town, Community Links, the Boys and Girls Club, and FCSS – there are so many different organizations, [and] you have to work as a team.”

The trees, wreaths, centerpieces, and ornaments will have begun being displayed at the time of publication. While capacity restrictions allow for smaller groups to come and see the trees, the voting can be done online by visiting bit.ly/3rdRj9x

Jordan Stricker, AirdrieToday.com
Follow me on Twitter @jaystrickz

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