Saint Al's Festival of Trees moves to a virtual format during the pandemic

Posted at 2:23 PM, Nov 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-17 12:25:22-05

MERIDIAN, Idaho — For the last 37 years, Saint Alphonsus has kicked off the holiday season and got people in the mood for Christmas with the Festival of Trees.

But this year, the event has been moved to an online format, but people stepped up in a big way to decorate 40 different trees.

Sacred Heart Catholic School has decorated a tree for this event for the last 25 years.

"We have a great team, plus all of the teachers at the school and all the students make the ornaments," said Debbie Fischer, who teaches at Sacred Heart. "The students usually come put all the ornaments on, but we didn't have them do that this year."

People will have the opportunity to bid on the trees beginning on Thursday, but that's not the only thing going virtual this year.

"Santa is going virtual, so instead of the kids sitting next to him or on his lap, we are going to have personalized video messages from Santa," said Jill Adape of Saint. Al's. "But the cool thing is, and there are some silver linings we are not constrained by geography."

The money raised during the Festival of Trees will go to the COVID-19 Response and Relief Fund as health care staff continues to work on the front lines of the pandemic.

"Our COVID-19 relief and response fund is going to support our health care worker resiliency, innovative technologies to support communications between patients and families and it will help us with community education," said Adape. "It will also allow us to be reactive and responsive for unanticipated and unbudgeted needs."

Saint Al's wants to thank the community for stepping up during this challenging year as they kick off the holiday season in the Treasure Valley.

"Oh my gosh, we are so lucky. Io live here, I am overwhelmed and proud of our community," said Adape.

People will also have the opportunity to vote on their favorite decorated tree.