There's no doubt that this city would be poorer without our service clubs. Each member in each club commits to community service upon registration and we're all the richer for it.

Next week is the culmination of weeks and weeks of work by the Rotary Club of Barrie (affectionately called 'the old club') as they launch for their 5th year, the Festival of Trees.

Nearly every club member is involved in this four day event which kicks off next Wednesday and is jam packed with activities for every age and interest group in the community. John Marvin is one of this year's chairs of the event and took a few minutes in the middle of a house move (yes! he did!) to talk about the demands and delights of this festival.

The program was originally started by Gryphon Theatre as a fundraiser and the Rotary Club has been involved since that first year, but now in a leadership capacity. The eventual goal is to move this festival out into the community, to involve many more service clubs and businesses and broaden its size and scope.

Rotarians have approached businesses to 'sponsor' the trees and depending on the height of the tree, sponsorships range from $5000 (gold) through $3000 (silver) to bronze ($1500). Once sponsored, the trees are then turned over to professional decorators who commit to turning a 'theme' tree into a breath-taking celebration of Christmas. Each designer takes on one tree.

Sometimes the tree has a theme (this year's festival theme is The Magic of Ice), and some trees are just plain decorated. The designers are coordinated by Anita Wright of Wright Alternatives.

The MacLaren Art Centre is location for year five of this celebration. There will be 40 trees throughout the art gallery and, as its first move into the community, the festival will place 10 trees on display at Georgian Mall. Two of those will be raffled off for $2 tickets.

The trees are all artificial with LED lighting and you'll see white pine, blue spruce, spruce, balsam, and fir.

The Rotary Club has built fundraising activities into this week. Wednesday will kick off with 160 seniors coming to enjoy the trees. Then the media launch cocktail party will be held Wednesday evening. The next day business owners will spend $65 to hear Walter Gretzky speak at the Civic Luncheon. Thursday night the trees will form the focus of a Girls Night Out, another $65 evening with seminars and local spa practitioners. The Friday Men's Luncheon is another fundraising opportunity. And finally, Friday night is family night at $5 admission with kids free.

Saturday evening is the final event, a black tie gala with a silent auction plus a live auction for the trees themselves. Successful bidders will pay from $500 to $1500 for a tree and take them home, or to their offices, a permanent reminder of a fundraiser well run. Tuxedos, fur hats, a red carpet and a photographer to capture your photo... meal stations for gourmet taste treats, lots of music, an 8 foot ice bar for martinis and champagne, a draw for very expensive diamond jewellery, tickets are $125 a person and 200 people will likely attend.

In all, this event takes weeks of coordination, but will bring in $65,000 for Rotary. And what will the 'old club' do with this money? They'll turn it over to Royal Victoria Hospital for the Regional Cancer Centre. The Rotary Club has committed $750,000 towards the centre and this is part of that commitment.

This is marvel in organization, committee teams for each event surrounding the festival. It's a tightly run, widely open festival with something for everyone.

Thanks, John. And thanks, Rotarians, for a tremendous commitment.

..............

Festival of Trees
The Magic of Ice
www.barriefestivaloftrees.com
tickets: 718-7698
or MacLaren Art Centre

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