After a two-year hiatus, people from all over the community packed the stands of the Ponoka Arena Complex on Dec. 14, to celebrate the return of the much-loved Santa Showdown.
The hockey game between the Ponoka Secondary Campus (PSC) staff and Grade 12 students raises money for Santa’s Anonymous Ponoka. Thanks to local support, this event has raised more than $37,000 in its 27-year history.
Attendance was at an all-time high; whether you were in the stands, the lobby, or standing around the glass, it was packed. Those who arrived late had to improvise a parking spot as the parking lot front and back were full of fans eager for the return of this classic hockey game.
“The crowd was good, the lobby was packed, I had to park almost at the auction mart,” said PSC Social Studies teacher and Santa Showdown veteran, Ron Labrie.
Clearly, the community was excited about this event, and it ended up being worth the wait. The standing-room-only crowd was treated to an entertaining hockey game, as well as a series of challenges at half-time where teams could earn extra points, including chariot races, a shootout, and perhaps everyone’s favourite, the tug-of-war.
Both teams put on a great show and kept it interesting until the very end, but the PSC students came out on top, beating their teachers 26-22 and securing bragging rights for the remainder of the school year.
Although his team didn’t get the result they hoped for, Labrie had nothing but good things to say about the event and the chance to play against his students.
“The Grade 12s were phenomenal; they got the whole perspective. No one was out there trying to run someone or take liberties; we were just out there having lots of fun. It was fantastic.”
The Grade 12 team was composed of players of all skill levels, some that play a high level of hockey and others that might be putting on skates for the first time.
“I’m lucky enough to have been involved with this since day one, and what impresses me is that you get non-hockey players and lots of them. They get the perspective of trying to raise money for Santa’s Anonymous, having some fun, and you know, just stepping out of their comfort zone,” Labrie added.
“Yeah, it was phenomenal. Lots of people, even on staff too, were outside of their comfort zone. You know, people don’t play hockey, and they’re going to be sore for a week, but it’s all for a great cause.”
Year after year, PSC’s phone lines are flooded with alumni reaching out and wanting to help in any way they can, and the 27th anniversary was no different.
“As great as anything is the amount of alumni that are still supporting this (by showing up) but also monetarily. We have people that are big business people and big supporters of the community, and they remember this game from when they were in high school, and they want to help out.
“Three weeks ago, I had people phoning and texting me, wondering how can they help. It just warms my heart to see how many alumni really care about this continuing to happen; it just continues to blow me away.”
Santa’s Anonymous is still accepting monetary donations, as well as toys and groceries, until Dec. 22. For more information, please visit the Ponoka Secondary Campus Facebook page.