Volunteers in Nakusp are scrambling to save a Christmas tradition in the community after learning it was going to be cancelled this year.
The Society for Nakusp Community Events (SNCE) needs volunteers to step up to organize the day-long festival that launches the Christmas season in the community. The event usually includes a Christmas parade and lighting downtown holiday decorations.
“Part of what our society does is to try to get events happening in Nakusp,” said Donna Rebman. “But we do the coordination of it, not the whole thing.”
The news that the Chamber of Commerce would no longer manage the event came out through a community Facebook page on Wednesday. The decade-old event is usually held the first or second Saturday in December.
Chamber President Ali Raskob says her group made the decision to drop the co-ordination of all events — the Chamber also used to do the Canada Day Parade — because of volunteer burnout.
“It was a decision based on people just working so hard and all alone,” she said. “It just is not feasible, people are not able to maintain that type of workload long-term.
“Everyone who volunteers has a kid, and a job, and other things that are going on in their lives. It hits a point where it is just too much.”
While the Chamber made the decision months ago, the news that the Light Up the Lights festival was going to be cancelled shocked and angered some, who swamped a Facebook thread with comments.
“That’s like killing Santa!” said Frances Batycki.
“A sad day for Nakusp,” said John Didier. “It sounds like it’s time (and long overdue) to get some new people running things.”
“I truly wish that the powers that be, especially the village, that knew this was going to happen had let us all know a lot sooner than this,” said Don Tilden.
But the thread, which has since been deleted, had others commenting and offering to volunteer.
“The problem is the lack of volunteers. More people need to step up and offer their time,” posted Shannon Low. “People just expect the events to happen by someone else. And then get upset when it doesn’t happen… Last year’s Christmas parade was all volunteer-based.”
With just a month to go before the event, Rebman says the SNCE only recently decided to take on a coordinating role and has been taking the first steps to see if the event can even be saved.
“You have to get authorization to shut streets down, this kind of stuff. That’s what we’re working on right now, and we are hopeful this is going to happen,” she said.
“Then we’re going to go forward from there and see what we can do.”
Rebman said compared to the Canada Day parade, the Christmas event is not a huge affair, and figures about 15 people are needed to make things happen.
“It’s organizing the parade, it’s organizing the games you can do downtown, it’s seeing the merchants are involved, if someone wants to have a chili contest, or a street hockey game, or live music,” she said.
“It depends on what ideas other people have on what they want to see and do, and if they want to take that task on, then fly right at it.”
There’s a ‘how-to’ manual that describes all the various jobs that need to be done, and the society is tracking that down now, she said. If the first handful of issues can be dealt with — permits, corporate help and the like — the group will hold an organizing and volunteer meeting next week to see who wants to help actually make the event happen.
“But the big emphasis is going to be, there’s got to be quite a few new volunteers,” cautioned Rebman.
One big change has already been decided. The event will be held on Friday, Dec. 8, instead of the next day. That’s to accommodate logistics with the fire department, which usually has its trucks in the parade.