Charities, businesses and even Santa himself came together over the weekend to celebrate the start of the most magical time of year. While the town would usually host its popular Christmas Parade of Lights at this time of year, COVID-19 prevented such an event from happening in 2020.
Instead of a parade, families were encouraged to drive through the town to see the Christmas lights and displays outside houses and businesses. Photos and videos of the displays were also posted on social media on Friday, giving families the chance to see the decorations from the comfort of their own homes.
Santa made an appearance in both Vankleek Hill and L’Orignal early on Friday evening. Although children were not able to meet with him in person, Santa and a trust sidekick made their way through both villages, spreading cheer both in person and on social media.
Meanwhile, locals opened their hearts to those in need at a food drive outside the Vankleek Hill Foodland on Saturday. More than $1300 worth of food was donated to the Vankleek Hill Food Bank during Saturday and the week prior, while another $1200 in other donations was also collected.
Foodland teamed up with the food bank for the cause, allowing shoppers to purchase and donate bags of pre-packaged food in $5, $10 or $20 amounts. Cash donations could also be made to help the food drive. Those who missed out on the Saturday food drive could also make nonperishable food donations at the Creating Centre every Saturday and Sunday until December 13.
Zumba instructor Lou Stephenson, meanwhile, will host a special virtual class between December 1 and December 12 to support the food bank. Zu-Lou had held fundraisers over the past eight years to support the food bank, but would hold a virtual event this year due to social distancing restrictions. While the class would be free for anybody who needed a “morale boost,” donations were encouraged during each session in order to support the Vankleek Hill Food Bank. Anyone interested could visit facebook.com/zulouzumba/.
Champlain Township, has launched a “shop local” campaign to support businesses affected by the pandemic. The municipality’s Facebook page has highlighted Christmas gift ideas from individual local businesses since November 18.
A craft fair and the local farmers’ market will also continue through December on weekends. The Vankleek Hill Farmers’ Market has moved indoors at 79 Derby Street and runs between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. The market asks patrons to carry a tag left at the door of each room in the building, which helped limit the number of customers in each area.
The Christmas Craft Fair, meanwhile, is held at the Creating Centre every Saturday and Sunday until December 13. Five crafters are selected each weekend to help limit the number of people in the space and allow for social distancing.