The Village of Beiseker is hosting its annual Christmas event, which was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in the hopes of reigniting a sense of community and togetherness in time for the holiday season on Dec. 4.
According to Brook Swanson, family and community support services (FCSS) coordinator at the Village of Beiseker, the focus of Village staff and other event organizers this year is to bring Christmas cheer and community connectivity back to Beiseker.
This year’s iteration of the holiday festivities will include a Christmas market at the Beiseker Community Hall from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the Santa Clause parade and fireworks on Main Street at 5 p.m., with participants meeting at the Village’s office along 1st Avenue at 4:30 p.m.
“[The event] is really about connecting neighbours to neighbours, and we haven’t had the ability to do that recently,” Swanson said. “It was important for us to focus on something we could do – even on a small scale – that allows people to come together.
“Christmas is for most a really positive time of year to spread community spirit.”
Swanson added the Village is asking local businesses, residents, organizations, and sports clubs who would like to participate in the parade to decorate a float and join the procession.
“It’s really about community engagement [and] the more the merrier,” she said of the parade. “It’s about connecting people to place again. Everyone’s invited to put in a float – there’s no specifications of what it needs to look like.
“We’re just asking that people email myself if they would like to be added to the list, but we are really looking forward to the community coming out for that.”
Swanson noted the parade and fireworks display hosted by the Village of Beiseker was thought as something that would improve community spirit while still being mindful of COVID-19 health protocols.
“It was really about doing something little to provide a really big value,” she said. “Some people have been isolated throughout this whole thing. Being able to come out and see your neighbours again, give them a smile, have a small conversation, is really important.
“We’re just hoping the weather cooperates – that [everything] aligns beautifully to create a really good opportunity for people to get out in their community.”
The Christmas market, hosted by Beiseker resident Les Spurgeon, will include a variety of homemade ware, baked goods, and hot beverages in hopes of attracting residents out for the first part of day’s celebration.
“Some people just need that,” Spurgeon said. “That’s why we’re doing it, to get the community back together, because COVID-19 has divided everybody so badly, it’s ridiculous.”
Spurgeon said this year’s market is downsized relative to previous years and will include 40 tables for vendors, with approximately six to 10 tables left to fill.
“We’ve downsized because of COVID-19 [in order to] get a little bit of distancing in there because our normal set-up would have us literally packed like sardines,” he said.
He added the market will be implementing the Restriction Exemption Program (REP), which will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for entry, in order to make the situation more manageable for both vendors and volunteers.
“We do fall under the market banner, but we’re kind of on the borderline,” he said. “We decided to go with the REP and that way, we’re not responsible and neither are the vendors.”
He added the event almost did not go ahead this year due to a lack of volunteers and uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
But in the end, a desire to keep Beiseker’s holiday tradition alive following the event’s cancellation in 2020 won out.
As for Spurgeon, he said he has a more personal reason to maintain local Christmas events.
“My wife was the figurehead of it and she passed away just prior to us having to start [in 2020]. I had too many things on my plate at the time, so I decided at that point we would forgo last year,” he said.
“For my wife, I wanted to keep it going.”@carmenrcundy