The Fernie Heritage Library invited the community to their seventh annual Christmas Celebration on Dec. 19. The two-hour event had something for everyone, including all ages caroling and crafts for kids. The event has steadily been growing and brings in a larger portion of the public every year.
“This is our seventh year doing the event and we usually get anywhere between 400 to 500 people coming through. It’s a big spread of ages, anywhere from babies to the elderly. What is really lovely is that people are adding it to their holiday calendars,” said Emma Dressler, Library Director. “It’s changing all the time. At the beginning it was only for children and families with young children. Now we have made it into a community celebration.”
Community retirement homes have had senior groups attend the event for the past few years. While there were some seniors at the celebration, the snow and weather made it difficult to get to the event. That didn’t stop the library from adapting the event to fit the seniors. They have added chairs and tea to their offerings to make it easier and more comfortable for seniors who attend the event.
“Sometimes they even ride the bus. It didn’t work out this year but we do have some that came out. And that’s why we started to put chairs out and offer tea, just to make them more comfortable,” said Dressler.
From ukulele supported Christmas carols on the main floor to movies in the basement there was something being offered on every floor of the Library.
“Upstairs we have children storytelling, on the main floor we have hot apple cider, crafts, and caroling with some ukulele and most of that happens at quarter after 3,” said Dressler. “We do a peace chain at the front when guests come in. One of the things people always love is our Christmas cards, so we do that at the front as well. We have it so there is something going on everywhere.”
Dressler believes the two biggest public draws to the event are the caroling and an appearance from the North Pole’s biggest celebrity, Santa.
“The two big things are music, getting a chance to sing together with your neighbours and the other part is the story-telling. We even get a special visitor from the North Pole in the afternoon,” said Dressler.
Events like this do more than just bring the community to the library; they morph the definition of the public library into something more than a book-based building.
“We pride ourselves as the library, we call ourselves the community living room. The idea you can just come in and relax. You don’t have to be here a certain time. They come they go, they enjoy it,” said Dressler.
This can be seen by the number of volunteers that donate their time to the event. The age and background of the events volunteers range,from retired locals and seasonal workers to high school students.
“We have loads of volunteers as well. People serving cider, doing crafts, and they volunteer their time which is really kind,” said Dressler. “There are young people that come too, we have skiers that are down for the season that are in their early 20s and come in and volunteer their help.”