Christmas spirit came to town early this year with Fernie’s annual Holiday Kickoff event on Friday (Nov. 25).
Community members were out on 2nd Ave in the early evening despite heavy snowfall listening to carols from The Audielles and entering shops to partake in sales and promotions to support local businesses.
The event was put on by the Fernie Chamber of Commerce, The Arts Station, and the City of Fernie.
Joelle Anderson was out listening to carols with family, and said they got to see Santa and have hot chocolate.
“I’m so glad the rain turned into snow, and it’s turned out to be absolutely beautiful,” she said.
Robert Wintrip, who moved to Fernie about four months ago, was also out with his family listening to the carols.
“It’s amazing, it’s lovely, isn’t it?”
“Full on, the Christmas experience. Snow, carollers, cool,” he said.
As The Audielles were drawing crowds outside, people could also be seen gathering inside the shops, socializing and staying dry from the slushy snowfall.
At around 7:30 p.m. people began to gather at Station Square, some huddled around little fires as they awaited the lighting of the tree and the fireworks show. Inside The Arts Station, Santa, Mrs. Claus and The Griz were taking pictures with families.
The Christmas tree was lit, The Audielles sang on stage, and Chamber of Commerce president of the board, Norman Fraser, said a few words.
Fraser thanked everyone for braving the wet weather to help kick off the holidays and support shopping local.
“Shopping local… (is) important to our community, to our growth and our health, so thanks to all the businesses that participated tonight. And for all of you that were out spending your money, thank you.”
Mayor Nic Milligan gave a short speech before the fireworks, thanking everyone who was involved in making the event happen.
“This event has evolved over the years, from very humble beginnings to the wonderful event we see this evening. And that’s all thanks to the Chamber of Commerce, they’ve done a wonderful job in bringing this event forward.”
He also spoke about the ‘immeasurable impact’ of shopping at local businesses, and said it has been a difficult couple of years for them.
“We’re very lucky to have a lot of small businesses in this community.”
Milligan also wished everyone a wonderful holidays.
“And please, I ask everyone to remember, this is sometimes a difficult time of year for folks, so remember to check in with family and friends and your neighbours, to make sure that they’re having an ok holiday season.”
Milligan kicked off the countdown to the fireworks, and the large crowd joined in, before the sky was filled with flashes of white, red and green, and people young and old stared up in wonder to mark the beginning of the 2022 holiday season in Fernie.