The Big Valley Jubilee Hall was crowded with children, parents and grandparents as the community came together for its annual Santa Day on Sunday, Dec. 11.
The annual event treats the community’s children and their families to a free lunch and a visit with Santa Claus, who brings a present from his workshop for each child.
Families sign up their children earlier in the year and the volunteers, who are provided a name, age, and gender for each child, go shopping for an appropriate type of gift. The event is funded through donations from local individuals and businesses, with enough money raised each year to ensure each child leaves with a gift.
“It’s all donations,” volunteer Brenda Woods said. “Businesses and oil companies donate, though this year it’s a little slower. We have personal donations, too. It’s all donated. Different organizations, the village, everybody in town, basically.”
Yvette Cassidy was the volunteer in charge of food, and she ensured that no one went away hungry. There were hot dogs, beef on a bun, juice boxes and potato chips for everyone.
After lunch, children were entertained by Rosco the Clown, who often is found performing on the trains from Stettler to Big Valley. He had children and adults alike in stitches during his comical act, which featured balloons, tricks, and live animals – a rabbit, a dove, and a chinchilla all made an appearance.
As Rosco left the stage, the hall was interrupted by the sound of sleigh bells. Children raced from one end of the hall to the other to greet Santa Claus as he entered the hall, dressed in his trademark red suit.
He took a seat on a special chair that was set out for him near the stage, and kids gathered around and waited for their names to be called.
After a brief visit on Santa’s knee, the children were given a present and a treat bag by volunteers.
“(Santa Day) happens every year, and has for a long time,” Woods said. Volunteers estimated the event has taken place at the hall for a quarter-century, though it has evolved from its origins into the event that is held today.
Santa, who takes time out from his busy pre-Christmas schedule, leaves the toy shopping to Catrina Dubitz, another volunteer.
“I just shop for all different ages,” Dubitz said. She noted that Santa then selects the toys for each individual boy and girl.
With nearly 115 children registered this year, the hall had barely any sitting room available, except when the kids were sitting at the front for the magic show, or to await their time with Santa Claus. After the presents were handed out, it was an exciting time for all as children ripped wrapping off their new presents and discovered what Santa Claus had chosen just for them.
Annual Pioneer Dinner largest in years
The annual Big Valley Legion Pioneer dinner brought in a large number of guests on Saturday, Dec. 10.
According to Legion president Lorne Parkin, the dinner has been going on longer than he’s been in Big Valley. Though he said he wasn’t exactly sure about its origin date, he estimated the event is more than half-a-century old.
“It went pretty good,” he said. “We had 130 people there, and it was one of the most highly attended dinners we’ve had in recent years.”
The event took place around noon at the town’s Jubilee Hall, and served up a dinner of turkey and all the trimmings, he said.
“Volunteers make the dinner every year, and they do a great job,” he said.