Lydia Mitchell, 6, of Alna places a raffle ticket for a chance to win a decorated Christmas tree during the Kora Shriners’ 14th annual Feztival of Trees at the Kora Temple in Lewiston in 2019. Sun Journal file photo  Buy this Photo

LEWISTON — Despite the pandemic, Kora Shrine Center will kick off the 2020 holiday season by hosting its 15th annual Feztival of Trees from Nov. 20 to 28, keeping the popular tradition alive.

Multiple COVID-19 precautions will be implemented to ensure the safety of participants, center leaders said.

Bernard McAllister, one of the co-directors of the event, said the center began planning the event in March to ensure it could be held safely.

“It’s a big part of the community,” he said. “We enjoy doing this and we know that the community enjoys having an event like this.”

Ticket sales will start Sunday, Nov. 1, and are offered online only at Admission is $6. Raffle tickets will be offered online and on site, and 50/50 tickets will be offered on site only. The lottery tree decorated with $500 worth of Maine State lottery tickets will be available as well.

For those who wish to attend virtually, pictures and descriptions of the trees will be provided online and participants can use their raffle tickets virtually.

McAllister said there has already been a lot of positive feedback from the community in response to the center’s announcement to move forward with the Feztival.

“We feel like everybody is looking forward to this and we’re very optimistic that we can do this in a very safe manner and have a great event,” he said. “There are a lot of people who are looking for events to go to that can be done in a safe manner.”

In addition to utilizing the center’s online platform to minimize contact with sales, only 50 people will be allowed to enter every 30 minutes and all attendees must wear a mask. Visitors will have one hour to admire about 60 decorated trees, which will be spaced out over two floors, and hand sanitizer will be readily available.

In contrast to previous years, there will be no craft vendors, food court or live entertainment, but Santa will still pop in when possible and parents can take pictures with their kids in front of him, from a safe distance, of course.

To keep the holiday spirit, the Feztival of Trees will feature “Santa’s Mailbox.” Kids can write a letter to Santa, include their name and address, and drop it in Santa’s mailbox and he will reply. The “fishing pond” — an attraction available in past years where children could fish for a gift after visiting Santa — will not be available. These precautions are to minimize close contact and the chance of contracting COVID-19.

Winners of the raffle and 50/50 drawing will be announced at 6 p.m. Nov. 28, and they will be given a time slot to collect their tree. All proceeds benefit Kora Shrine Center at 11 Sabattus St., and will be used for maintenance and upkeep of the building.

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