Marshmallows roasting over the fire to make smores, Santa Claus riding around downtown in a carriage, the Chemainus Community Concert Band playing endless holiday delights, hot dogs on the barbecue, market merchants displaying and selling their wares.
Those features and more were all part of a festive atmosphere created by the Chemainus + District Chamber of Commerce Christmas Market and Fundraiser Saturday in downtown Chemainus.
Funds and spirits were both raised for the holiday season on a perfect day. There was a crispness in the air but the sun was out to brighten the mood and the hearts of residents in anticipation of the most wonderful time of the year.
“The event attracted hundreds of people to downtown Chemainus and we couldn’t have asked for better weather,” enthused Chamber of Commerce president Stephanie Ballantyne. “It was heartwarming to see the community come together for this event and all of the joy it brought to those who attended.”
Ballantyne added she was particularly touched by the story of an elated mother who found out a carriage ride with Santa was free for her to enjoy with her little ones. It was sponsored by Island Savings and sponsors played an integral part in the enjoyment of the free community event, just as Roy Summerhayes of Seniors 101 had proposed in hosting a Christmas Market to the Chamber board last year.
“This year, we welcomed the additional support of the Chemainus Rotary Club who added smores to the list of sweet treats and fun activities,” Ballantyne indicated.
The Chemainus Community Concert Band provided great live entertainment, the Chemainus Valley Museum was open to visitors and 49th Parallel Grocery gave out 300 hot dogs while Island Savings handed out coffee and hot chocolate.
The generosity of all who participated and donated was greatly appreciated by both Cowichan Neighbourhood House and Toys, Toiletries and Toques, the two charitable groups supported by the event.
Kathryn Asp, president of the Neighbourhood House Association, noted $1,472.95 was raised for the organization on the day.
She expressed her gratitude to the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, 49th Parallel and Island Savings, as well as all the vendors and public for their support of the Christmas Market. “It was a wonderful event, and the weather was perfect,” she added.
Asp wanted to reinforce the Cowichan Neighbourhood House is not the food bank which is located next door in the Chemainus United Church basement.
“We are a volunteer-led, community based organization and we offer low-barrier access to food security with zero food waste,” she added. “With the help of our partners, the 49th Parallel Grocery, Loaves and Fishes Nanaimo and our wonderful community donors, we are able to supply groceries and hot meals Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. We hope to get back to five days a week in the new year.”
Asp indicated the organization also offers youth programming, advocacy and service navigation, the famous Friday free store with household goods and clothing sourced from community donations, the seasonal celebration gifting program that’s focusing this year on helping families do their own shopping with gift cards and bus tickets as well continuing with traditional gifting on request, skills training programs based on community needs, access to community paramedic and nurses, year round extreme weather centre when conditions require and more.
Asp noted anyone interested in volunteering can send an email to email@example.com or call 250-246-3203 and leave a message.
“We plan to build upon the success of this year and collaborate with community organizations and sponsors to expand the event next year,” pointed out Ballantyne.
The following organizations were involved in the Chemainus Christmas Market and FUNdraiser: Chemainus + District Chamber of Commerce; Rotary Club of Chemainus; 49th Parallel Grocery; Island Savings; Seniors 101; Chemainus Community Concert Band; Chemainus Valley Museum; Chemainus Valley Courier; Ploughs and Petticoats (Kelly-Ann Argue); Santa (Darrell Dale); Chemainus Theatre Festival (Santa costume); Little Angels Children’s Boutique (Carol Hodgins) and all the market vendors.
The festive spirit continues this Saturday, Nov. 26 with fundraising and craft markets at the Chemainus Fire Hall and Chemainus Village Square at the Great Canadian Dollar Store, a special guest appearance by Santa for photos at Island Savings and more barbecue hot dogs from the 49th Parallel Grocery.
More events are planned around town the following weekend.
“The old adage ‘tis the season for giving’ rings true in Chemainus, but it’s a year round constant,” Ballantyne noted. “Our community excels in volunteerism and generosity at all levels.”
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