Tonight is the big night. Six different special guests (including Santa and Mrs. Claus) have their stages (squares?) all set, five local restaurants are getting special meals ready for ticket holders, and right now, I’m guessing a whole bunch of volunteers here in town have that excited / a little nervous feeling. They’re hosting a big Christmas party tonight on Zoom, and it’s been months of planning.
Rick Ingram is with the Peachland Recovery Task Force. They’re made up of reps from local groups – from BEEPS to the Lions, Rotary, the Sportsmen’s Association, the Wellness Centre, Boys and Girls Club..(and now that I started naming, I know I’m going to miss a couple more).
It all started back in March, when the Peachland Chamber of Commerce called a meeting. Local non-profits were invited, as were council and district reps.
“From that, the task force was formed and we started meeting on a weekly basis to talk about different things we could try to do,” he says.
They managed to convince councillors this spring to relax District patio rules so restaurants could expand their space with social distancing, and in September, they hosted a pair of drive-in movies at Turner Park (and donated $2,300 to the food bank in the process).
“That was a fabulous success because people were starting to get cabin fever at that point in time,” says Rick.
“It gave a nice safe way for people to get out and do something.”
It’ll be almost two hours of family-friendly, local entertainment. There’s Elvis and Marty Edwards, Sister Act and local musician Niki Martinus. There’s also a pair of (Kelowna) celebrity emcees. This gala has been organized because the local groups mentioned earlier – all of them, actually are struggling in some way. No events = no money coming in, and as a couple of them mentioned in my articles this week, they fear sources of funding like their usual Gaming grants may be uncertain.
“We started looking at the gala idea and figuring out how they work and how could we put something like this together,” says Rick.
“By now, we’re all used to doing a Zoom meeting, but this is actually using the Zoom webinar platform.”
Vince Boyko – Peachland’s go-to tech problem-solver guy, will be helping out tonight, and Rick says the timing of doing this on what would have been our traditional Light Up in Heritage Park was fitting. In this strange year, tonight can be seen as our town’s official start to the Christmas season.
According to the gala website, a little over $13,000 has been raised so far – an amazing amount. There’s a silent auction that ends tonight as well and again, all money raised goes towards a really good cause – our local community groups. Four of them were chosen, based on need that was evaluated by an objective committee.
“As our little task force saying goes, we’re Peachlanders helping Peachlanders,” says Rick.
There’s something you gradually get to understand when you live here: If you think of all the fun things, from the Polar Bear Swim (for me, maybe not fun enough to do again, lol), to the St. Patrick’s doggie walk, to Canada Day, Halloween and our traditional Light Up, it’s all because of volunteers. So let’s support them tonight! You can buy a ticket too – they’re $25 each and will be sold right up to the 6 p.m. showtime.
“There’s lots of people participating in different ways to make this a success,” Rick says.