There will be no hot chocolate, bonfire or music this year for Winterfest — the land events on Saturday night have been cancelled due a lack of dedicated volunteers.
“We just found over the last three years that we have less and less volunteers. It’s gotten to the point where it’s so tough, my two main volunteers said, ‘I’m not doing this again. It’s midnight, I’m soaking wet and we’re the only ones here doing this’,” said Joy Sundin, Prince Rupert Special Events Society coordinator.
For the small, dedicated troop of volunteers, the last four Winterfest have ended like this — cold, alone and more than ready to go home.
“The directors made that difficult decision to not host the Saturday night land events. Anything,” Sundin said.
It will be the first time in the tradition’s known history that there won’t be land events.
In early December, boats of all kinds participate in the annual Sailpast, decked out with lights and decorations for Winterfest as they cruise by crowds of onlookers. It’s one of the few times a year that Rupert’s sky explodes with colourful fireworks.
This year is the 36th annual Christmas carol boats, an event which was incorporated into Winterfest — now in its 22nd year — by the Prince Rupert Special Events Society.
“Hopefully it’s a wake up call to the community to say there has to be volunteers that come forward, to commit some time to come out and help put this on. Because the few volunteers — I hate to say it — but we’re all in our mid-60s and we just need some help,” Sundin said.
“I try to get students to come down from the high school, but I haven’t had enough in the last two years. I run around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to do it all.”
The rest of Winterfest 2017 will continue as in the past, starting on Dec. 1 with the CBC’s food bank, children’s tree decorating, museum events and thousands of lights in front of the courthouse. Saturday carries on the festivities with the pancake breakfast and photos with Santa Claus, the craft and gift fair at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre, a free skate and swim, the Santa Clause Parade and, finally, the Sailpast.
Sundin hopes that the land events will resume next year, but they will only be possible with the help of more volunteers.
Registration for the Santa Claus Parade will be open until Nov. 29.