AUGUSTA — Downtown Augusta was showcased last weekend, with money raised to benefit several organizations in the city.

The River of Trees was a fundraiser for the Augusta Downtown Alliance, the Colonial Theater and the Kennebec Valley Humane Society. A total of 27 decorated trees, each surrounded by or filled with gifts, were set up inside the under-renovation Colonial Theater in downtown Augusta and raffled off over the weekend.

The event raised a total of $18,600, according to Michael Hall, executive director of the Augusta Downtown Alliance and a member of the theater’s board of directors.

The Downtown Alliance, which is to get 70 percent of the money, will put its share raised by the River of Trees into its general operating budget. Hall said the money probably will fund new grant initiatives in the coming year aimed at attracting new business downtown.

The aim of the event, he said, in addition to being a major fundraiser for the organizations involved, was to showcase the growth of downtown and the progress made in renovating this year’s location of the event, the Colonial Theater

“We want to get people excited about all these changes and look forward to making this even bigger next year,” Hall said Monday.


The Kennebec Valley Humane Society is expected to receive 20 percent of the proceeds of the event, to help fund the nonprofit Augusta animal shelter’s efforts to help provide care and find new homes for homeless animals.

Hillary Roberts, the Humane Society’s executive director, said the money raised will go toward day-to-day operating costs for the shelter, including costs for vaccines and treatments and feeding and care for the many cats, dogs and other animals that pass through the shelter.

“Keeping 2,000 animals a year healthy and happy can be an expensive but important process,” Roberts said Monday.

She said the shelter had adoptable dogs at the River of Trees, and the event helped increase the community’s awareness of the shelter’s work. Among shelter representatives at the event were Clarice and Jason, Chihuahua puppies dressed as Mr. and Mrs. Claus, though the pups are not yet old enough to be adopted out.

Ten percent of the money raised — as well as what theater advocates raised independently through a giving wall and poinsettia sales — will go to the Colonial Theater to help renovate and repair the theater, which is on the northern end of the city’s downtown section of Water Street.

The three-day event featuring the raffle of artificial trees, each of them coming with $500 to $1,000 worth of merchandise or gift cards for services donated by local businesses, was part of multiple holiday-related events in downtown Augusta last weekend, including the city’s annual holiday tree lighting and fireworks show over the Kennebec River on Saturday, and a Victorian Christmas living history experience across the river at Old Fort Western.


At the River of Trees, participants bought raffle tickets for 50 cents each and entered as many tickets as they wanted for each of the themed trees, with the winning ticket holder getting both the tree itself and the donated items and services that go with it.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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