There was a bit of nip in the air that made it almost a perfect time to kick off the holiday season.
A nice-sized crowd gathered at the Kinsmen Community Centre on Friday, Nov. 20 to celebrate the coming season at Ponoka’s annual tree-lighting ceremony, which was also marking the beginning of the community’s big Christmas shopping night – Almost Midnight Madness.
Before the brief speech from Mayor Rick Bonnett, those in attendance stayed warm with some free hot chocolate, enjoyed some Christmas carols as well as some free cookies.
Bonnett thanked the crowd for showing up and hoped that they would take advantage of the specials at the local businesses, adding it’s only through their support that Ponoka can continue to grow and prosper plus attract new business.
After thanking the Ponoka Chamber of Commerce for setting up the tree-lighting, Bonnett also put out a call for the public to have in their thoughts at this time of year those that are suffering in other parts of the world as well as the people of France who were greatly affected by the recent terrorist events.
Bonnett said we must cherish the relative safety and freedom this great country affords us, but not forget those that need our support during this time of year.
Following the lights coming on, Santa was on the scene – courtesy of the Ponoka Fire Department – handing out gifts and hugs to the many children that stuck around through the chill in the air.
As for the shopping extravaganza, there were few businesses that weren’t busy during the first few hours of the event with few parking spots to be had.
In addition, the annual Ponoka News food drive was a huge success once again – raising more than 1,000 pounds of food and more than $200 in cash donations, a significant increase over last year’s donations.