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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘A dream for a dollar’: Christmas Tree Elegance raffle returns to support Spokane Symphony

The nine Christmas trees occupying the Davenport Hotel’s mezzanine glistened and sparkled Monday alongside signs promoting the chance at prizes like furniture, jewelry, gift certificates and thousands of dollars in cash.

The scene was similar on the second floor of River Park Square, where six more trees of various colors and themes showcased troves of possible prizes up for grabs for just $1 per raffle ticket.

Yes, Spokane: Christmas Tree Elegance is back.

The 39th-annual Christmas tree raffle fundraiser to support the Spokane Symphony will run from Tuesday through Sunday, Dec. 12. Raffle tickets are $1 each.

The themes for this year’s 15 trees range from “Harry Potter” to “Home for the Holidays.” Including the tree itself, each offers a prize package with a cash value of up to $4,999, said Elizabeth Raol, event chair for Christmas Tree Elegance 2021.

The “Hogwarts Holiday” package, for example, includes $3,000 in cash toward a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood and a 6,000-plus-piece Lego Hogwarts Castle, while the “Home for the Holidays” tree includes a 50-inch 4K TV, a Breville espresso machine and $1,500. Two trees, meanwhile, offer a chance at straight cash: one at $4,500 and another at $4,100.

The trees and a Father Christmas sculpture will be raffled off Dec. 12. Ticket buyers must be at least 18 years old or older.

“It’s like a dream for a dollar,” said Elizabeth Raol, event chair for Christmas Tree Elegance 2021. “It’s within anybody’s reach if they can come up with four quarters.”

The proceeds largely go to the Spokane Symphony, with some withheld for startup costs associated with next year’s raffle, Raol said.

Regarded as Spokane Symphony’s largest fundraiser, Christmas Tree Elegance was canceled last year due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The donations from the fundraiser accounts for around 6% or so of Spokane Symphony’s budgeted revenues, said Bruce Colquhoun, president of Christmas Tree Elegance’s parent nonprofit Spokane Symphony Associates.

All of the themed trees planned for last year’s event have returned.

Raol said more than 100 volunteers worked together to make this year’s Christmas Tree Elegance happen. That number includes “tree teams” dedicated to decorating and rounding up the prize packages for each trees with support from participating donors, Raol said.

Colquhoun said while some older volunteers were unable to participate due to COVID-19 concerns, the event was able to find enough help to cover.

“I am just very proud of the planning committee and our tree teams. They worked very hard on this to bring it back to the community,” Raol said. “We have a diverse group of wonderful trees. … There’s something for everyone.”

Raol said the raffle barrels will close at 4 p.m. Dec. 12. Drawings will take place starting at 5 p.m. at the Davenport.

Given the year off, organizers are hopeful the turnout for this year’s Christmas Tree Elegance can return to past levels of participation. Colquhoun said ticket tables will have plastic shields, while volunteers will have masks.

In 2019, Christmas Tree Elegance sold more than 400,000 tickets.

“We’re grateful we have an opportunity to help (the Spokane Symphony) and keep that alive in our community because it is such a beautiful form of art for us to enjoy, so we hope we can return to that level again,” Raol said, “but time will tell.”