Hay River is gearing up for the Christmas season, with events filling up the calendar for December.
The Town of Hay River’s department of recreation and community services, as in past years, has taken the lead with the Santa Claus Parade, Breakfast with Santa, Skate with Santa and other festive activities scheduled for the month. Along with community partners like The Frozen Grape and NorthMart, the department is looking to bring a little Christmas cheer for all residents.
“It’s a mandate of the department to be connecting with the community,” said recreation programmer Travis Darling. “Often the community services part doesn’t get as much attention from the public as the recreation side of things, but it’s all part of what we do.”
Darling said he was overwhelmed by the number of spectators who came out for the Santa Claus Parade on Nov. 30 and again by the number of people who attended the Breakfast with Santa the next morning.
“It thoroughly blew my mind,” he told The Hub. “There were people lining the streets nearly the entire length of the parade route. It made it feel like a TV Christmas, like we should be on ‘Dawson’s Creek’ or a film set or something.”
Darling said that, although this will be his first time running the Skate with Santa on Dec. 20, he has been told that it remains a popular event for the community and will likely be very well attended.
“They told me you know you’re in the home stretch when you get to Skate with Santa,” he said, laughing.
The calendar of events is indeed pretty full, but Darling said the work is all worth it.
“I’m a single guy,” he said. “And for someone who doesn’t typically come out to events like these, it’s amazing to see the commitment of local businesses and individuals who have really embraced what this department is trying to run.”
Darling said the power of sponsorship for events could not be overlooked, adding that the extra help allowed him to do much more than he could have with just the resources of the department of recreation and community services.
“It’s good to see people gearing up for the season,” said Ian Frankton, the director of recreation with the Town of Hay River, noting the Don Stewart Recreation Centre is gearing up for Christmas, too. “It’s awesome to see the kids’ faces when they come in and see the tree and decorations.”
But beyond the events and increasing spending at retailers, Frankton said there is a general feeling of cheer in the community.
“You can see the community spirit growing as we get closer and closer to Christmas,” he said. “Honestly, you can feel the happiness in the air in town.”