It is time to share our Christmas spirit

By: John Barlow

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Dec 04, 2013 10:13 am

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It was a heartwarming morning working alongside friends, families and complete strangers to give a community a much needed jolt of holiday spirit.

More than 80 volunteers braved the cold last Saturday to inject downtown High River with a substantial dose of Christmas cheer.

They brought along their ladders, their staple guns and plenty of creativity.

Every corner of the Scout Hall was filled with strings of colourful Christmas lights, twinkling stars and other decorations donated by people throughout southern Alberta to be used in the project.

After sifting through the mountain of donations we gathered our materials and headed off to our designated building to start the beautification process.

We strung miles of Christmas lights on the storefronts and hung hundreds of shiny balls in the trees.

For hours people were scattered throughout the downtown core erecting literally thousands of Christmas lights, candy canes and garland on the lonely looking businesses left vacant as a result of the June flood.

It may well have been the largest Christmas work bee one could imagine. Santa’s elves at the North Pole would have proud of the efficiency, determination and work ethic of the volunteers in High River.

Every now and again someone would be driving by, stop and walk over simply to say, “Thank you.”

It was not necessary, but those moments were enough to warm the coldest of hearts. It certainly brought a smile to everyone’s face knowing their efforts were appreciated.

In fact, as the morning wore on a real party atmosphere emerged among the volunteers as Christmas carols rang through the outdoor speakers at Rotary Park.

With every string of lights, with every Christmas ball and candy cane it was as if High River’s beleaguered downtown started to awaken and come back to life.

A new and exciting vibe resonated as people bustled about not only decorating buildings, but visiting the town’s temporary business park, enjoying a hot chocolate or simply sharing a much-needed laugh with a neighbour.

People came from all over southern Alberta to help Light Up High River in time for the community’s annual Santa Claus Parade on Friday.

Due to the efforts of the volunteers, organizers and generous donors who supported the Light Up High River initiative the downtown will be lit up like, well a Christmas tree, for the Santa Parade on Friday.

We had an incredible turnout for Okotoks Light Up last month now it is time to spread the holiday cheer.

There are businesses in High River, Black Diamond and Turner Valley who have been struggling in the wake of the flood. The disaster robbed them of one of the busiest times of the year.

Of course, Christmas is the most important time for small businesses in Okotoks and surrounding communities. A good Christmas supports their entire year.

High River and Diamond Valley are celebrating their own versions of Light Up this weekend so take this opportunity to visit these communities and reassure them they have not been forgotten. Spread a little of your Christmas spirit and a few of your hard-earned dollars as well.

Like the small businesses in Okotoks, these merchants need our support to ensure they can celebrate a happy New Year.


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