Port Huron tree festival adapts to social-distancing circumstances

Bryce Airgood
Port Huron Times Herald

Port Huron – McLaren Port Huron Foundation will host the Festival of Trees for the 32nd year this holiday season, but the event is going to look a little different due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jamie Guyor, foundation development officer, said there will be 17 trees lit for the festival in McLaren Port Huron’s south tower lobby, lining the windows. 

The hospital has a partially closed campus but the community is invited to drive by or walk the sidewalk outside the hospital to view the trees, she said. 

“We want to keep the community safe,” Guyor told the Times Herald of Port Huron. 

Patricia Toth decorates a tree ahead of this year’s Festival of Trees in Port Huron.

The event will take place Thanksgiving through the New Year and there will still be a raffle drawing. People can buy raffle tickets for a tree or for a kayak package, which includes a kayak, paddles, life jackets, a speaker and a Yeti cooler. 

Raffle tickets cost $1 each and ticket sales and donations can be made online at the foundation’s website. Tickets will be available online starting Thanksgiving and the drawing will be done right before Christmas, Guyor said.

Proceeds from this year’s Festival of Trees will be used to purchase an endobronchial ultrasound bronchoscopy. This equipment allows for early detection and treatment of lung cancer, improving care and outcomes for lung cancer patients in the Blue Water Area, according to a hospital press release. 

Guyor said the cost of an EBUS is “substantial” and the pulmonary critical care team is excited for the equipment. If someone currently needs this type of detection, they have to go outside the county to receive it, and when you’re not feeling well you want to be close to home, she said. 

The reason there are less trees this year is due to space restrictions and so people can see the displays better while walking or driving by.

This Festival of Trees will be held in McLaren's South Tower Friday, Nov. 20, 2020 in Port Huron.

Guyor thinks because the trees will be easily visible at all the windows people will still participate in the raffle, but the foundation is not sure how much they’re going to raise. The community has been generous but there’s a lot of uncertainty. 

The foundation is grateful for the support of the hospital and the community to continue the tradition in a new and safe way, she said. 

“Now more than ever, we are grateful for the support of our community,” said Sara Tait, McLaren Port Huron Foundation director. “We find comfort and encouragement knowing this community cares about and supports our mission. We feel it is important to keep the Christmas spirit alive, especially this year, and hope our community will support this annual tradition.”