Pretty soon, people won’t have to wonder whether someone is talking about beer, or Christmas cheer, when attending events at the Lloyd Watson Memorial Community Centre.

Just months after relaunching, following a nine-year hiatus, the Wilberforce Loop Troupe announced recently it had succeeded in getting a $5,000 grant through the MacDougall Community Contest. The money will be used to improve acoustics in the main hall, which the group uses for rehearsals and live performances, and upgrade sound equipment.

Wilberforce was selected ahead of 150 other community projects to receive the top prize.

Loop Troupe members David Watson and Janice Dahms said the group only learned of the initiative a few days before entries were to close May 23.

“We were at rehearsal for ‘Skit Oodles’ and someone had heard about the contest and thought we should put in for it,” Watson said. “The acoustics have always sucked in that room, so we put our heads together and came up with a script for a two-minute video playing into that. It was quite funny.”

One of the skits had Loop Troupe members act as an audience at a wedding. Everyone struggled to hear what the pastor was saying, and when he muttered, “you may kiss the bride,” the audience thought the pastor had said he needed a ride.

The other set was festive themed, at a family Christmas gathering. When someone yelled “it’s time for Christmas cheer,” others around the table thought they’d heard the host say they would soon be serving beer.

“We played into the fact that noise echoes in that room, and it can sometimes be hard to hear what people are saying. It was like a game of broken telephone,” Watson said.

Between May 24 and 31, MacDougall received around 24,000 votes – with Wilberforce coming out tops. Watson said it was a real community effort.

“We had signs all over, people were talking about it at the grocery store, we all encouraged our family and friends to vote,” he said. “And the message seemed to spread. My son told his friends, who all voted from Vancouver. One of our members, Mary Barker, her son voted from Germany. Others voted from their holidays in Spain.

“People were literally voting for Wilberforce from all over the world,” Watson added.

Dahms said she was the first person to hear Wilberforce had won June 3 – her employer is a MacDougall client and received a note from the company’s head office about an hour before results went live.

“I was just so excited – I didn’t know what to do, whether I should post it,” she said. “By the time I’d called some members, MacDougall had posted the results. Everyone found out pretty quickly – it’s just a great thing, huge for the Loop Troupe and the Wilberforce community.”

The group will look to purchase and install soundproofing baffles along the walls and purchase better audio equipment. Watson said it will help with acoustics during live performances, and also for events such as weddings, funerals, graduations, and special functions and parties.