Festival of Trees volunteer Julie Madden helps with the finishing touches on a tree entered in the 2012 event.

Festival of Trees volunteer Julie Madden helps with the finishing touches on a tree entered in the 2012 event.

Tree challenge supports VIU

NANAIMO – Teams decorate as part of annual Festival of Trees fundraiser.

Imagine the magical moment when the twinkle lights go on, decorations sparkle, and the crowd applauds as your team’s Christmas tree is illuminated for the first time in VIU’s 19th Annual Festival of Trees.

“We’re inviting community groups, organizations and businesses throughout Nanaimo to enter the TD Community Tree Decorating Challenge this year,” said Jason Nelson, chairman of the Festival of Trees. “This event is a wonderful holiday tradition in Nanaimo, and an opportunity to bring your group together to create your tree masterpiece.”

Decorated trees will go on display at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre Nov. 21-29, with the public invited to view them, vote for their favourite, and purchase raffle tickets for a chance to win one of the trees.

With a month left until the set-up day for trees at the conference centre on Nov. 16, there’s time to get a group together, decide on a theme, and get to work on a festive project.

“There’s always a healthy, spirited competition,” Nelson said. “We encourage entrants to get together to brainstorm, and choose a theme that shows imagination and creativity. Think about how your tree can represent your organization.”

A long list of potential tree theme ideas can be found on the Festival of Trees website at www.viu.ca/festival, along with guidelines for making the most of the experience. An elegant or traditional theme might be the right inspiration, or consider the possibilities of decorating a tree to depict Christmas in a foreign land, show off a favourite hobby or sport, or include memorabilia from a bygone era.

With more than 4,000 community members expected to view the trees, the Tree Decorating Challenge is an opportunity to support VIU, with proceeds going to support students and their learning.

Community members who come through “Festival Grove” at the conference centre will be invited to vote for their favourite tree between Nov. 21-25. The team with the winning tree will receive two tickets to the Festival of Trees Gala Event on Nov. 29.

The public will be invited to attend the treel light-up on Nov. 21; tickets are $30 each. Public tree viewing days, with admission by donation, are Nov. 22-27; family days are Nov. 23-24, or attend the public late-night viewing Nov. 27.

The festival concludes with a black tie gala on Nov. 29. Tickets for this premier annual fundraising event are $195 each and available online.

For more information, please visit www.viu.ca/