by Mark Scullino, 2017 Coordinator
Christmas in Merrickville 2017 was held on Saturday, December 2 and was an unprecedented success. On behalf of the Christmas in Merrickville Coordinating Committee and all of its volunteers, I wish to express our heartfelt appreciation to all the local business/merchants, Village, Fire Fighters, Service Groups who helped make it one of Merrickville’s most popular events!
The day started out with Breakfast with Santa, hosted by the Legion, where over 350 guests were served a hearty breakfast. Ron, Larry, and their teams of horses from Precious Moments Carriages, toured visitors throughout the Village for the entire event.
The weather, once again, cooperated this year and the crowds came out in record numbers for the annual Merrickville Fire Department’s Christmas Parade and Boot Drive. After the parade, children of all ages were entertained by Diego the Magician, our sax player Rob Barclay, strolling carollers, and the friendly animals of the Vanderlaan Barnyard Zoo. Polly Beach entertained quite a crowd with a Juice Jam at the Library, and many faces were painted up by our friendly clown at the Community Centre.
The Merrickville Day Nursery School coordinated another successful Cookie Walk & Weigh, where a variety of cookies and treats could be purchased. Thanks to Margo for creating a beautiful woodland scene for Santa to receive visitors and chat with children after the parade. Firefighters treated the kids to free hot chocolate and hot dogs as well.
The afternoon began with Santa and Mrs. Claus, who took time from their busy schedule to spend the day in Merrickville and pose for photos. From 9 am to 9 pm, visitors could participate in bidding on a variety of Silent Auction items. These events are made possible through generous donations from our local merchants and businesses. A special thank you to the Merrickville Lions Club for their support and for organizing the Christmas Hamper/Build a Mountain of Food Drives and providing hot apple cider.
The fire barrels burned from 1 pm to 7:30 pm and provided visitors with warmth from the cold, a cup of hot chocolate, and hotdogs and marshmallows to roast over the open fires. CiM gave out more than 1,100 hot dogs, 30 bags of marshmallow, and more than 40 pounds of hot chocolate. A special thank you to Weston Foods, who donated all of the hot dog buns for CiM, as they do every year. Unfortunately, we did run out, due to higher than anticipated crowds. All of these foods are donated by companies and, without them, our fire barrels would not be as successful as they are. Our Chili Tent was, once again, very successful: thank you to all of the participants who took the time to make chili. The 2017 winner was Nana B’s.
The Tree Lighting Ceremony began at 5 pm in Blockhouse Park, where the lights were lit and get more beautiful each year. Thanks to Marc Bergeron and his team for adding to the magic of the evening by projected lights and images in the downtown core. The Mountain of Food will once again be taking place on the same day as Christmas in Merrickville in 2018.
I was asked by visitors on many occasions during the day, “Where do the donations go?” I was happy to advise them that the financial donations collected from the Silent Auction and donation bins would be directed to local charities. CiM has chosen the following local charities for their 2017 donations: Beth Donovan Hospice, Interval House, A Chance Animal Rescue, and the Merrickville Food Bank.
On a personal note, I am stepping down after two years of co-ordinating this event. It has been a wonderful experience. I would like to thank all of the committee members, who put many hours, prior to, and on the day of the event. Also, to our volunteers and sponsors, thank you so much in helping us make this event a successful one.
Christmas in Merrickville has been a long-standing and much anticipated event for the Village for over 25 years. The number and variety of activities has grown over the years, as has the attendance. It is important for the merchants, service groups, and village population to continue to be involved year after year for this event to grow and thrive. Christmas in Merrickville is a volunteer driven event. If you would like to participate, or would like to make suggestions for next year, please do not hesitate to send a message to the Christmas in Merrickville Facebook page, or to our website.
On behalf of the Christmas in Merrickville Coordinating Team, thank you Merrickville-Wolford for your support! Remember to follow us on our website and Facebook page.