Festival of Trees returns to Houlton Regional Hospital

5 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — The magic of Christmas and the giving spirit is already alive and well at Houlton Regional Hospital.

The seventh annual Festival of Trees, sponsored by the Health Services Foundation, is in full holiday mode in the hospital’s conference room on the second floor. Last year, 29 trees and 18 wreaths were donated to the group. That number has bloomed this year to nearly 50 trees on display.

“The trees are just extraordinary this year,” said Lori Weston, executive director of the Health Services Foundation. “We encourage folks to come in and buy a ticket of course, but they can also just sit and enjoy the trees and music. Each tree really is unique.”

Trees of all shapes and sizes are on display. Some are disguised as gnomes, others are wooden trees filled with gift cards. Some stand more than seven feet high, while others are skinny for smaller spaces.

Individuals or businesses donate the fully decorated artificial trees, with many of those trees filled with gift cards and other prizes. Tickets, which are $1 each, will be sold8 a.m.-8 p.m. through Nov. 30. Each tree is numbered with a corresponding ballot box nearby for people to place their tickets. On Nov. 27, winners for every tree will be drawn.

Last year, the event raised $23,000 for the foundation to go toward the purchase of new equipment.

“Think about that number for a minute,” she said. “As amazing as that total amount was for our group, that is 23,000 $1 tickets with someone’s name on it. That is incredible.”

One tree in particular has drawn Weston’s attention. The “Reading Tree” was created in memory of Carol Reece, complete with a rocking chair. Created by the housekeeping staff at the hospital, the tree is filled with books and other items.

For the first five years, the Health Services Foundation filled the main concourse of Houlton Regional Hospital with beautifully decorated trees as part of the foundation’s annual event.Last year, however, the trees had to be relocated to the hospital’s conference room after a complaint was filed with the Department of Health and Human Services, prompting a visit from the state fire marshal’s office.

The first Festival of Trees was held in 2013 as a fundraiser for the Southern Aroostook Cultural Arts Project. The following year, SACAP partnered with Health Services Foundation, with trees located at both the hospital and SACAP’s downtown art gallery, before HSF took over the event exclusively.

“I truly think that people genuinely feel the spirit of Christmas when they are in here,” Weston said. “I have invited the local nursing homes to come in and we will have tea and cookies for them all.” 

Tickets are available at the HSF office, located on the first floor of the hospital near the gift shop. For information visit, https://www.healthservicesfoundation.org/ or call Weston at 521-2147 or email hsflweston@pwless.net.