By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – For the past 33 years the Annual Community Christmas Celebration has helped Morinvillians kick off the holiday season. This year organizers are looking for a little help to kick off the celebration itself. The event takes place at St. Jean Baptiste Parish and provides the community with an evening of multi-denominational Christmas music and fellowship.
Committee chair Leanne LaRocque said a couple committee members who were going to take over the event this year were unable to do so due to personal reasons. “I agreed that I would stay with the committee for another year and I’m looking for some fresh faces to join the committee,” LaRocque said. “ A lot of the planning is in place but there is a lot of work liaising with the various groups who will be participating.”
That liaising consists largely of working with the church and community choirs, bands and soloists to determine what songs they will perform and what their requirements are in terms of equipment and accompaniment. “Although the framework is there; there is a lot of checking with the various participants,” she said.
LaRocque would ideally like six additional committee members, people who could potentially add some new ideas and connections to the mix. “The more people you have thinking about it the more creative we become,” she said. “Sometimes we’ve had a theme. Sometimes we’ve based the celebration around a book or a play. When you’ve got more minds working on it you become more creative. When you have a committee of three, you are focusing just on what needs to be done. Many hands make light work.”
LaRocque said there are about four meetings between now and the event as well as the follow up with the group they are liaising with.
John Unsworth, a former Morinville teacher, school board trustee, and Citizen of the Year, started the annual celebration in the late 1970s. In its inaugural year, staff and students of École Georges P. Vanier School invited parents and the general public to a traditional Christmas concert in the school’s gymnasium. The response was so positive Unger organized the first full Community Christmas Celebration the following year at St. Jean Baptiste Church, inviting other Morinville churches to participate in the event. Over the next eight years the event evolved into what organizers say was the community’s most anticipated annual event. Unsworth moved to British Columbia in 1988 at which time the annual celebration was taken over by a small group of dedicated volunteers who wanted to see the event continue.
The Community Christmas Celebration takes place Dec. 20 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Jean Baptiste Church. Donations to the Knights of Columbus Christmas Hamper program are welcomed and encouraged.
Those interested in helping the celebration committee can contact Leanne LaRocque at Georges H. Primeau School – 780-939-3593.