SEASIDE — The Providence Seaside Foundation hopes to dazzle, delight and raise funds for new surgical equipment during the 2015 Festival of Trees, an annual tradition.
The festival will ring in the holiday season for the 18th year, Dec. 5, with a free public open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and a gala dinner and auction starting at 5 p.m. Both events will take place at the Seaside Civic and Convention Center.
The festival “is sort of the premier event of the holiday season,” helping put people in the holiday spirit, executive director Kimberly Ward said. “People have really embraced it and come to anticipate it.”
Seaside resident Bob Perkel, who has attended the festival gala with his wife, author Honey Perkel, three times, agreed the event is a special affair. The couple like “dressing up, enjoying the festivities,” and “one of the best things is spending time with our friends,” Perkel said. It is a good opportunity to wear nice attire, since opportunities to dress up at the beach “are so minimal,” he said.
From the beautiful trees and holiday-themed lighting and decorations to the good food, talented musicians and lively auction, Perkel said the event is enjoyable and has become a holiday tradition for the couple.
During the public open house, families can visit Santa Claus, enjoy refreshments, decorate cookies, do crafts and face-painting and view the display of decorated trees.
That evening, the gala starts with a champagne reception and a silent auction. Acústica World Music provides music. Silent auction items donated by the community include wreaths, vacation getaways, gift baskets, gift certificates, artwork and more.
“It’s going to be a great variety; something for everyone,” Ward said.
Dinner and the live auction for the trees begins about 6:30 p.m. The 22 trees are the highlight of the event, Ward said. They are sponsored by local organizations, businesses and individuals. Several hospital staff members participate, and this year, three trees are from the staff of the hospital’s surgical department, the event’s beneficiary.
“The trees are so beautiful and all of the donors and the designers just put their heart and soul into creating them,” Ward said. “It’s just magical.”
Each tree is decorated with a theme to match its accompanying giveaway item. The entries this year include a Hawaiian-themed tree that includes an eight-night trip to Maui, including a stay at a two-bedroom condominium near the beach and $1,000 in airfare; a “Classic Romance In the Wine Country”-themed tree includes a stay at The Inn At Abeja in Walla Walla, Wash., a wine tour and a gift certificate for a local restaurant; and a tree themed “Scandinavia Christmas from Astoria,” sponsored by FinnWare, featuring gift certificates for area attractions, including Baked Alaska and the Cannery Pier Hotel.
The live auction also includes original artwork by Bill Steidel of Cannon Beach, the event’s signature artist. The artwork is titled “Winter Ice,” and depicts a wintry village scene reminiscent of Steidel’s New York childhood.
Steidel works in numerous fields, including music, writing, painting, sculpting and book illustrations. He uses a variety of media and themes. Steidel, his wife Sally and their son, Sam, have operated Steidel’s Art gallery, on South Hemlock Street in Cannon Beach, for more than 50 years.
Since its first Festival of Trees in 1997, the Providence Seaside Foundation has raised more than $1.4 million. In 2014, the festival raised $143,000 to support the new North Coast Providence ElderPlace program in Seaside. Proceeds also went to partner with Medical Teams International to provide free mobile dental services to uninsured adults and children.
This year, proceeds from the gala event will be used to purchase new surgical equipment, including an enhanced video camera with internal scopes and an intense light source and digital printers, to provide “the very latest in surgical technology” at the hospital, Ward said. The new equipment, which costs approximately $210,000, will increase the scope of procedures available at the hospital.
“The idea is really to keep people closer to home instead of having to go to Portland for surgeries,” Ward said.
The foundation’s board of directors will cover the remaining cost of the equipment if not raised during the Festival of Trees. Ward said the fundraising goal for the event this year is $150,000.
Tickets to the gala are $100 per person; $65 is tax-deductible. For reservations, call the foundation at 503-717-7604.