Night Before the Night Before attracts hundreds downtown

A popular site – A fenced area on Stettler’s Main Street was particularly attractive for the younger residents of the community on Thursday

A popular site – A fenced area on Stettler’s Main Street was particularly attractive for the younger residents of the community on Thursday

Mild weather, plenty of free and fun activities and last-minute Christmas bargains drew crowds of people downtown Stettler for the annual Night Before the Night Before on Dec. 23.

“We had lots of people downtown and people enjoyed the free train rides and movie,” said Andrea Hatch, president of Stettler Downtown Business Association which hosts the annual event.

“It was the best weather in three years.”

Temperatures hovered just above minus 20 degrees Celsius, warmer than last year with minus 25 and –35 in 2008.

All in all, more than 20 downtown businesses supported the event.

Live reindeer, a visit by Santa Claus, free hay rides, free train rides and free movie “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” at Jewel Theatre were each a big hit by people of all ages.

Jewel Theatre collected from more than 100 people who attended free movie show and gave food donations.

Free train rides on Alberta Prairie Railway Excursions were a big hit as 1,200 people enjoyed complimentary refreshments and entertainment.

All four trips were packed for a fee of $5 for adults as a donation for Stettler and District Food Bank, with $2,100 and three truckloads of food collected from passengers.

“We had lots of comments about the large inflatable snowmen downtown that they were an added visible attraction,” said Hatch.

She hopes this is the start of many new features being added to the annual event.

“We have plans to make it bigger and better for next year,” said Hatch.

Train passengers were given a special ticket to get stamped by three businesses for major draw of $500 draw that night.

The winner of the prize was Christine Byers of Stettler. A second prize of two open-date train tickets was won by Amanda Keddy of Stettler.