Residents are once again being invited to bring a personal touch to Christmas in Haliburton this festive season, by helping to decorate the downtown tree.
Put up Nov. 21 by volunteers from the Dysart Fire Department, it’s the biggest tree the community has ever had, according to Haliburton & District Lions Club member Jim Frost, measuring in at more than 30 feet.
This is always a special time of the year for Frost, and his wife Marilyn, who often take the lead in organizing festive events across the community, most notably the annual Santa Claus parade. Last year though, with COVID-19 causing many popular events to be cancelled, the couple came up with a creative way to spread Christmas cheer around the community, asking residents to help spruce up the downtown tree. Now, they’re hoping to do it again.
“We had so much fun with this last year, and I know lots of kids did too. By Christmas we had a lot of decorations on there – the tree looked great,” Frost said. “So, even though things are getting back to normal now, we thought ‘why not make this part of what we do [in the lead up to Christmas]’.”
The Lions are partnering with the Haliburton BIA on the initiative, and BIA administrator Angelica Ingram was on hand with her two children, four-year-old Evangeline and two-year-old Abigail, to apply the tree’s first ornaments – a pair of blue reindeer.
“This is a good, nice way for us to kick off Christmas, and for the community to feel like they’re a part of the downtown celebrations,” Ingram said.
Residents can stop by the tree, located outside the Village Barn on Highland Street, anytime between now and Dec. 25 to hang a decoration. Ingram says the tree will remain in place until the first week of the new year. Residents will be required to pick up their decorations if they want them back.
Give the gift of food this Christmas
Haliburton Highlands OPP is encouraging residents to get into the spirit of giving this festive season.
The local police force is hosting its annual Fill-A-Cruiser event again this year, with officers scheduled to be at several locations across the region over the next few weekends to collect food, toys and monetary donations for three area food banks.
On Dec. 4, officers will be at Foodland in Haliburton from 10 a.m. to noon, and at Todd’s Independent Grocer from 1 to 3 p.m. On the same day, police will also be at Easton’s Valu-Mart from 10 a.m. to noon and the Minden Foodland from 1 to 3 p.m. On Dec. 18, officers will be at the Wilberforce Foodland from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
All donations will support the Minden Community Food Centre, Haliburton 4Cs Food Bank and the Central Food Network, which offers food and supplies to residents across Highlands East.
“The Christmas season can be a really hard time for some families financially; to be able to afford to put food on the table for their family on top of [buying] toys and taking care of all the other things they’re responsible for at this time of the year, so this event is really about our community coming together to help people out during a time of real need,” said OPP Constable Michelle Scanlan.
Officers will be accepting non-perishable food items such as canned meats, soups and vegetables; cereals; meat alternatives such as peanut butter, soy and assorted nuts; sanitary items such as toilet paper and diapers; and personal hygiene products. Most participating locations, Scanlan said, have put together pre-packaged bags that residents can purchase and drop off with officers on their way out of the store.
As it has done for several years, the local force will also be collecting toys. Scanlan said they would be passed on to families that are most in-need to ensure all children across the county have something to open up on Christmas day.
All money raised will also go directly to area food banks to help purchase in-demand items such as eggs, milk and meat.
“I was a part of the event last year, and even then, during a pandemic, it was amazing to see how quickly the cruisers were filling up,” Scanlan said. “Every single person was walking out of the store with a bag in hand to give to us. We’re fortunate to live in a very giving, very generous community. I’m sure this year’s event is going to be [a] huge [success].