On November 25 and 26 – Sylvan Lakers packed into the Nexsource Centre to open up the Christmas season as a community.
The Fifth Annual Spirit of the Yuletide Festival is a volunteer led, all-things Christmas celebration that raises funds for the important charities in this community. In the past four years – Sylvan Lakers have raised over $53,000 for local charities like Sylvan Lake Urgent Care, the Sylvan Lake Food Bank and the Christmas Bureau.
Mayor Sean McIntyre emceed the event and was pleased to see residents come out in droves to support their community.
Trade Negotiations – Mayor Sean McIntyre met with dignitaries from the North Pole to discuss a future trade visit from Santa Claus for the night of December 24. TODD VAUGHAN/SYLVAN LAKE NEWS
“The Yuletide Festival is about bringing community together to celebrate the season and to raise money for great causes,” McIntyre said. “Everyone has been joyous and generous.”
The festival has a little something for everythone with the Santa Claus Parade and Light up the Lake fireworks courtesy of the Town of Sylvan Lake on Friday evening and the Breakfast with Santa at Fox Run school on Saturday. The Christmas Market showcases local vendors throughout the weekend.
The planning for this event is done by a committee which includes organizer and Town Councillor, Graham Parsons.
“We have a great committee – everyone has a job and gets it done,” he said. “We meet once a month during the year and then we ramp it up in September meeting twice a month. There are hundreds of man hours in it. We go out into the community and get donors but they have stepped up themselves as well. The community gets behind everything. We really have a great community.”
He added the premier sponsors of the event step up every year providing venues, donations, raffle items and their time to these great causes.
Mayor McIntyre also stressed how invaluable volunteers have been to this initiative.
“It’s an enormous amount of work for the volunteers that put on the Yuletide festival,”McIntyre said. “They work on this all year long and it comes to a head every November. The smiles on people’s faces make the work worthwhile.”
The massive number of man hours allows for all the Christmas performance and vendors to pack the arena with Christmas cheer. Megan Epp’s House of Music students are some of the performers that benefit from the Yuletide Festival.
“I am so happy this event is happening and that we get to be a part of it,” Epp said. “I am thankful for Graham Parsons and Sean McIntyre – they are so involved with their communities. We all have strong relationships with the people that organize these events and that is a really cool thing.”
The total amount of money raised hasn’t been counted for 2016, however the full opening of the NexSource Centre in 2017 means the Yuletide Festival will only grow in the future.
“We are really looking forward to next year when we get more space,” Parsons said. “It’s great to see everyone here and it’s a great way to start the Christmas season. Next year, when the NexSource Centre is open – it will be an even greater event.”
McIntyre added “It’s encouraging to see everyone having fun together while contributing to great causes. This year is no exception. You see the great crowd kicking off Christmas together – it’s amazing to see.”
A tree was being raffled in honour of longtime Sylvan Lake News Editor Steve Dills who recently passed away sponsored by Chief’s Pub & Eatery. TODD VAUGHAN/SYLVAN LAKE NEWS