COCHRANE— Celebrating the most wonderful time of the year, community parades will once again be winding their way through Cochrane rejoicing in the holiday season in support of the Cochrane Activettes Share Your Christmas Campaign.
Cochrane Fire Services and Cochrane RCMP will be working with the Cochrane Activettes and Alberta Health Services to collect food for the Share Your Christmas hampers and bring joy to the community, said Cochrane Fire Services Inspector Jeff Avery.
“We’ve never experienced a holiday season like this,” Avery said. “Everybody is a bit on edge. There’s some people who have lost their jobs and are down on their luck. But, I have always found ever since I’ve been in Cochrane the residents in Cochrane are just outstanding citizens— They’re always helping and that just tugs at your heartstrings.”
Fire services, the RCMP and Alberta Health Services are committed to doing everything in their power to help lift community spirits, Avery said, and the community drive-by parades serve as a safe and fun way to do so.
The festivities begin on Wednesday (Nov. 18) at 5 p.m. with a parade in Heritage Hills and Heartland. The following parades will take place in Sunset Ridge on Nov. 20, GlenEagles on Nov. 23, Riversong/Willows/Riviera on Nov. 25, Cochrane Heights/Sunterra on Nov. 27, Riverview on Nov. 30, Jumping/Bow Ridge on Dec. 2, West Valley on Dec. 4, Glenbow on Dec. 7, Fireside on Dec. 9 and the East End on Dec. 11.
People appreciated when first responders began holding community parades during the start of COVID-19, Avery said, and one could see the jubilation it brought to residents during a time of unprecedented fear and uncertainty.
Cochrane and the globe face a different reality now where people are also beginning to feel frustrated by the virus— The goal of the department is to get out there and bring the community together in a safe way that unites the people together during this round of parades.
“We’re going to get through this— It will take time but we are going to beat this,” Avery said. “We just want to wish everybody a Merry Christmas and say ‘we’re here for you guys.’ A quick wave and a smile goes a long way.”
They are encouraging people to give a quick cheer to say hi from a safe distance and make a donation to the Share Your Christmas campaign, when the parade arrives.
For residents leaving donations for the Activettes, Avery said, they are encouraged to leave in a bag in the front yard for firefighters to pick up during the parade.
Avery praised Councillor Marni Fedeyko for helping organize the initial campaign in the spring and playing a key role in relaunching the parades for the Christmas season.
“She’s done a tremendous amount of work,” Avery said.
RCMP Cpl. Troy Savinkoff commended Fedeyko for coming up with a positive and safe way to bring the community together.
“We were super, super happy with how it all went down earlier this year,” Savinkoff said. “It’s a really good cause— It’s going to support the local community, the local kids and get some presents to fill up some hampers.”
He noted the most important aspect of the parades is it will give people the option to donate to the Share Your Christmas Campaign from the safety of their homes.
The biggest difference for this round of parades, Savinkoff said, is first responders may not be going up every street in a neighbourhood because it can prove difficult to navigate with some of the trucks. He encouraged people to check out the parade map for their neighbourhood to see where the routes go to choose the best spot to say hello to first responders.
“Get out there and make some noise. That’s what it’s all about,” Savinkoff said. “It’s fun to do something positive and get around and see everybody.”
For those concerned with COVID-19, social distancing will be in place. They will be able to approach vehicles and drop a donation in the back of a vehicle without making direct contact with service members.
Activettes Kathy Hubman said it was a surprising delight to find out community parades will be taking place in support of the Share Your Christmas Campaign.
“It’s really appreciated by our group,” Hubman said. “It’s a great community event to keep spirits high.”
It is more important than ever to get out into the community, she said, as the Activettes are predicting the need for hampers will see a double-digit increase of families in need due to the economic devastation from COVID-19.
The Activettes are grateful for the parade because it offered another opportunity for people to have fun and drop off donations without having to go to a store.
Hubman encouraged people to get outside and support the parade when it comes to their neighbourhood.
The Activettes are encouraging people to donate gift cards and certificates from local businesses to the campaign along with cash donations. In terms of food looking for boxes of cereal, bags of rice, pasta, canned foods, peanut butter, jam and pancake mix for hampers.
“Small donations make a huge difference,” Hubman said. “If everybody just gave a little bit it would make a huge difference to our community.”
This article has been updated to reflect that the GlenEagles community prade takes place on Nov. 23.