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No Park Meadows Christmas lights display again this year

·2 min read

Although the tradition stretches back nearly 30 years, Park Meadows Estates courtyard will remain dim once again this coming Christmas season.

Park Meadows, a retirement complex with over 120 units, is generally self managed. The famous courtyard Christmas lights display has been organized and carried out entirely by volunteers who live in the area.

Russ Holowachuk, chairman of the board at Park Meadows Estates, spoke to the News about the decision to go without courtyard lights for a second year in a row.

Holowachuk indicated that a committee of volunteers previously took care of the display, deciding when and how to arrange the lights and decorations. Over the past few years, members of that committee began to move out of the complex, making the task a bit more difficult, but last year was the straw that may have broken the camel’s back.

“Christmas of 2020 we didn’t do it because of the COVID,” said Holowachuk. “We used to set up donation boxes and stuff and we didn’t know who would touch them or handle the money.”

Holowachuk said all donations collected, usually around $7,000, were donated to the food bank.

“We never kept any money back to replenish the display items,” said Holowachuk. “But that’s probably an error in hindsight.”

This year, the same issues stand in the way of the traditional decorations going up – concerns with the pandemic and a lack of volunteers.

“We had a couple of residents left that were on the committee in 2019 and this year they moved away so they resigned,” explained Holowachuk. “We just couldn’t get anyone to be the co-ordinator of the committee. Second, there was still a concern about COVID and not being able to manage how many people were going to be coming here. We do have seniors here that are somewhat immune compromised, so we didn’t want to have any potential exposure to people coming in that might be carriers.”

Holowachuk said in order for the tradition to continue and be back up again next year, volunteers need to step up. He hopes to get a committee together in the new year that can go through all the decorations during the summer, deciding what can be kept and what needs to be replaced.

“If we can’t get enough volunteers, we just can’t do it. There’s been no outside help,” said Holowachuk. “We’ve thought about advertising for help, but in order to do that we still need some co-ordinators to organize everybody who comes.”

If anyone is interested in helping, they can contact Holowachuk at holowachukr@shaw.ca or 403-548-4909.

Although the courtyard won’t be shiny and bright this year, many residents of the complex have submitted addresses for the News’s annual Twinkle Tour. Watch for the list and maps coming soon.

LAUREN THOMSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News

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