Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Getting in the Christmas Spirit


My Rare One and I spent four days last week volunteering at the Festival of Trees here in Edmonton, which raises about a million bucks annually to buy extra medical equipment for our University Hospital. Many other Canadian cities also hold these Festivals for similar purposes and they are all a terrific way to get in the Christmas spirit!

The Festival of Trees is Christmas on steroids, full of beautiful and/or whimsically decorated trees, gingerbread houses, seasonal things to buy, seasonal things to eat, a non-stop entertainment stage featuring every kids' choir and dance school in the city, galas for the adults in the evening, activities galore for the kids. And of course Santa, Santa, SANTA!


I worked on the volunteer reception team, signing in volunteers for their shifts, handing out name tags, blinky pins, Santa hats and bottles of water, giving each volunteer a quick orientation and doing some of the paperwork necessary for them and the database to work smoothly. Approximately two thousand Edmonton volunteers are necessary to create and run the Festival every year.


My Rare One helped the team which wrangles the Festival mascot "Dr. Deer." No, she didn't have to wear the mascot suit. But I know she wanted to!

Inside the mascot suit is a succession of young, healthy teenagers. The wranglers have to make sure the teen is well hydrated beforehand by drinking lots of water, then get him or her into the suit (they cannot dress themselves), make sure the suit's interior head fan is working and put frozen ice-packs in strategically placed inner pockets. Wearing that suit is hot as hell. After each teen's short shift walking around the Festival, interacting with adoring kids, posing for photos, etc., they come out of the suit dripping with sweat. The wranglers then have to get the next volunteer in "the other suit" (the dry one kept in reserve) and then air out and dry the wet suit for the volunteer after that to wear. It's an endless cycle!

But I guess the discomfort is worth it for the volunteers -- Dr. Deer is the STAR of the Festival! Second only to Santa himself, of course. Being Dr. Deer is one of the most coveted volunteer positions.


If there's a Festival of Trees in your city, I urge you to go to it and spend a few bucks to support a worthy cause, all while having a megaton of Christmas fun!

[Photos taken by My Rare One, Nov 29 to Dec 2, 2018]

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

What an amazing event, must have been fun and satisfying helping , beautiful photos!

anne marie in philly said...

mistress maddie will identify with the last pix...of course, HER bottle tree would be all blue gin bottles~! a fun and memorable way to spend a week!

Moving with Mitchell said...

Nothing like this locally that a know of. Now THIS is a reason to get in the holiday spirit!

coffeeontheporchwithme said...

I've often wondered about the discomfort in being a mascot. Is it the same for sports mascots? They have to do a lot of running around and dancing. It must be horribly hot! -Jenn

DEZMOND said...

Two thousand volunteers? That's a whole village!
I can't believe them suits have inner fans!

mxtodis123 said...

Oh wow. How I wish they would do something here. Beautiful. And so heartwarming.

Marie Smith said...

Such a worthy cause! It looks like fun too.

^.^ said...

Am running away from all this frenzy for the second year in a row and I like it that way, friend D … Last year was Virgin Islands and this year is Mexico … My aim is to not ever spent xmas in snow/and ice as been there done that for 25 years while raising cattle … Anyway, happy xmas and all dat jazz, eh? Love, cat.

Bob said...

What a great event!And the trees! Oy. I'll have to check our closest big city and see if they have a Festival of Trees!

Mistress Maddie said...

That tree with the ski's is pretty cool.

And don't listen to Anne Marie. My tree would be much bigger.

Harry Hamid said...

Cool concept. And the pictures are great, too.

Sooo-this-is-me said...

Oooh that would be a great way to get into the spirit! Love the pictures.

holli said...

Love the cactus tree!! How cute and festive. I am sure there's got to be one of those here in Texas.
The bottle tree is gorgeous and I want one. Hmmmm
How fun that you guys have such a huge festival and its so successful. I would love to attend or volunteer a show like that.
Most definitely helpful to get in the spirit.

Kirk said...

Christmas on steroids is right! And it's nice to know they actually have little fans in those animal costumes.

Leanna said...

WOW! That looks like awesome fun. I'm just thinking of the possibilities for fundraising here in town.

Linda d said...

Creative and wonderful. How fun.

Don't let Trumpf see the first one, he might try to gas it or kick it out of the county without its ornaments.

Dr. Theda said...

Hello, dear Lady... very nice images... wishing you and yours well and Hello from Marshville

Susan said...

What a glorious display of holiday cheer! We have them here, but they fade greatly in the glow of the wonderfulness of Edmonton's!

Miss Val's Creations said...

What a fun event to volunteer at! That is amazing how much money gets raised for the hospital. Such an important cause. Being the mascot sounds like a nightmare but I can see how being the one who makes everyone smile be worth it!

e said...

We have a festival of the trees here, but I've never been. I'm going to check it out and see if it's a fundraiser. Now that I am retired, I have time to actually do things!

My ex volunteered at the Zoo during their winter festival called Zoo Lights. She was in the tiger costume. You are right, those outfits are sweltering. The wranglers do more than help them in and out of the suit, they also steer them around and let them know when kids are running up to hug them. It's bad if one gets knocked down by an enthusiastic embrace. The struggle to get back up is ... less than graceful.

I love the trees you selected for this post!

Liz Hinds said...

What a wonderful thing! I would love that. And so many volunteers raising such an incredible amount of money. Fantastic.

Go Doctor Deer! Can't say I fancy that sweaty suit though. Well done to the Rare One! She's a star!

Joanne Noragon said...

We have a very mini festival of trees in our town of 700. Businesses and organizations donate theme trees to a display at the library. They are displayed and silent bidding goes on until just before Christmas, when the trees go to the high bidder and the money goes toward a pre-selected cause, like buying bullet proof vests for the police, or respirators for the fire dept, and so forth and so on. Even a tiny town has the seasonal spirit. I would enjoy visiting yours, too.

MrsDuncanMahogany said...

What a FANTASTIC way to raise some money! Winnipeg -- check this out!! :)

Sarah said...

It's looks like a fun and interesting event.

Rosemary said...

We have a similar thing here held all across the country but the trees are decorated inside local churches. Charitable organisations decorate the trees in order to raise money too.

LL Cool Joe said...

I know I'm probably being thick, but what's a blinky pin?

Love the photos and well done for helping with such a worthwhile event! Sweaty teenagers in Dr Deer outfits doesn't sound much fun. :D

Guillaume said...

A festive cactus? Not wintery enough for me, I must confess.

This N That said...

That festival looks amazing. Lots of fun. I know those suits are very hot to wear. My sister and I were somewhere last week and she put her arm around the guy in the suit for a picture and he was soaking wet from sweat. Good pictures. It was nice of you and your rare one to volunteer. It was probably a lotta fun.
A definite way to get into the spirit of the season...

mshatch said...

Great photos! And imagine that wearing a hot sweaty uncomfortable suit would be the most coveted thing...sounds like some pretty awesome kids not to mention the many volunteers! If I was closer I would definitely go!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

@ LL Cool Joe -- A blinky pin is a small logo badge you wear on your shirt (the Festival of Trees one was about one inch square) that has several multi-coloured LED pinpoints of light that blink erratically in a circular way. They run on a tiny battery attached to the back. In the dim light on the Festival floor, it's easy to pick out the volunteers immediately by those extremely visible blinky pins!

Willym said...

What an amazing event! It looks and sounds wonderful and a great deal of fun. What's remarkable is that young people are involved.... they are learning at a young age that volunteerism is a vital part of being member of a community.

Kudos to you and RO for your part in it.

Martha said...

Awesome, Debra! What's there not to love about this event. If I lived there, I would participate. So much Christmas fun!

Carol Blackburn said...

Now that's a different sort of event. We have a Festival of Trees here but it's just regular decorated Christmas trees, very pretty but nothing so unique as that ski tree or bottle tree, etc. I bet the kids do have an awful lot of fun. It would be so interesting watching the faces of the tiny ones as they look at the trees with those wondrous looks they can get. Enjoy your day!

NanaDiana said...

WOW! That is quite an event and I know that the group is graced to have you there volunteering. Those are amazing trees and decorations! Have a great Wednesday-xo Diana

Adam said...

I'm going to have ask to see Dr. Deer's medical license

Lady M said...

Kudos to you for stepping up to assist such a worthy cause. It looks like an amazing event.

Trini Altea said...

Que bonitas fotos y el evento tuvo que ser muy bonito

Ol'Buzzard said...

That was interesting. I never knew that existed.
Merry Mas
the Ol'Buzzard

Elsie Amata said...

I love how many volunteers came out. That's awesome. What a wonderful community to a part of. I'll bet the volunteers have to be there for a while to earn the prize of being in that deer suit!

Elsie

brewella deville said...

I haven't done anything like this since my son was little. These days, our holidays center more around a nice dinner and a well made cocktail. I should look around for some sort of benefit night in my neighborhood.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

"Christmas on steroids" - ha! I love it, but only from afar. I have a hard enough time with the clean leaving version.

Keep enjoying, Debra.

bj said...

What beautiful photos...I know this was not only helping so many, it must have been so much fun...
This is,indeed, what Christmas is all about. I am proud to know you were there, helping out. xo

Fundy Blue said...

What a wonderful event for a worthy cause, Debra! And kudos to you and your Rare One for volunteering! I loved that saguaro cactus Christmas tree at the beginning of your post.

JACKIESUE said...

I love everything about this..you and your rare one rock.

Jenn said...

What a great place to volunteer and wearing that suit doesn't sound fun but good for the kids who volunteered!! Also that bottle tree is gorgeous!

Magic Love Crow said...

The true spirit of Christmas! Thanks for sharing this Deb! Beautiful! You made my heart smile! Truly love that bottle tree! I never knew those mascot suits were so hot! They even have a fan and ice packs? Wow! Big Hugs!