BILL McQUARRIE PHOTOS Santa arriving at Port McNeill’s Christmas Light Up ceremony.

Christmas Tree Light Up brings joy to community struggling with loggers strike

“It is times like this when community events are the most necessary”

The weather may have been typical November, but the Christmas spirit could not be dampened at this year’s Port McNeill Christmas Light Up celebrations.

Held last Sunday (Nov. 24) under rainy skies, Mayor Gaby Wickstrom noted the Christmas spirit was strong, declaring: “Who can’t help but get excited when Santa comes to town.”

It was a mood shared by many in the large crowd that included dozens of children waiting for Santa’s arrival.

Earlier that evening, ‘reliable sources’ within the Port McNeill Volunteer Fire Department reported seeing Santa’s sleigh landing near the airport. Those same ‘anonymous sources’ said that while some firemen stayed behind to look after his reindeer, others drove old Saint Nick into town in their fire truck.

While we were unable to confirm – before going to press – the exact details of what happened at the airport, we can confirm that Santa arrived in downtown Port McNeill that evening and he was in the fire truck.

Liza Furney, along with Councillor Shelley Downey and Pita Rosback, helped organize this year’s event and all three were a bit concerned if the combination of weather and the loggers strike might keep attendance or spirits down.

Furney recalled how well the ceremonies were attended the previous year, saying: “When we did last year’s light up, we couldn’t get over the response from people. We even received thank you cards in the mail.”

However, as this year’s event drew closer, she was uncertain about how the community might respond, adding, “This year, with the strike, we weren’t sure what people’s reactions would be. So it was so heart-warming to see the IGA parking lot fill up last Sunday night [despite] the pouring rain.”

Furney explained that seeing so many people this year showed how the Christmas spirit cannot be dampened and is still very much alive in Port McNeill. According to Furney, there is, “a sense of community the light up event [seems to] foster,” and that community spirit was enough for the organizing committee to say they are already starting to think about plans for next year.

Echoing Furney’s thoughts, Wickstrom noted how during the evening, “many people mentioned how much joy the light up ceremonies brought them.”

As mayor, she has been aware of the “current heaviness around the strike” and felt “it was especially important for our town to gather together,” adding, “It is times like this when community events are the most necessary.”

The Christmas Light Up has turned into a celebration many in the community can now count on. And on behalf of Port McNeill, Mayor Wickstrom extended her deepest gratitude to the businesses that made sure the Christmas Light up happened again this year.

– Bill McQuarrie article

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