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HORIZONS Volunteer Challenge - Labrador

HORIZONS Volunteer Challenge - Labrador

Emily Best
Location: Happy Valley Goose Bay
Activity: Winterlights 2007 Santa Claus Parade

Each year, the community of Happy Valley Goose Bay participates in the national Winterlights Competition hosted by the Canadian Tourism Commission. The Community Youth Network requested volunteers to build a float for the Santa Claus Parade, and I joined the planning team, recruiting more students to join. We decided on a theme, and planned and created the decorations and costumes. On Saturday Dec 15th, we decorated our flat bed in -28 Celsius weather, but everyone was in good spirits. I didn’t get to ride on the float, because I was asked to help marshal the parade, and escort “Bob the Builder” along the route, ensuring he didn’t trip, and that he met with lots of children along the route. There is a video on the Internet at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7suXlFmlv0 By the way, our float won an award for “Best Decorated Entry”. The crowds really enjoyed the parade, the wonderful floats, walking cartoon characters, and the marching bands. This was the first evening illuminated parade that we have ever had in Happy Valley Goose Bay and I was so proud to be part of it.

1. How is this group/activity valuable to its community and our society?

The parade fostered a strong sense of community spirit. In other years, the parade has traveled all around town, and people would sit in their living rooms and watch it pass by. This year, the parade was just a kilometer long, and it brought huge crowds of children and their parents, and even senior citizens, all together as a community to watch it.

There were about 200 volunteers involved in organizing and participating in the parade with 35 entries. Most of the people were adults, but our youth entry included our float, cheerleading team, the Nunatsiavut Drum Dancers and two youth clowns. It is important for youth to get involved in these community activities to see the positive impact they can make, but it is also important for adults to see us get involved.

2. What skills were helpful in your work? Did you refine existing skills or develop new ones? How might you apply these newly discovered skills in other situations?

I was glad to be able to use my creative skills to help design and decorate the float. Most of the youth involved were not from my grade, or usual group of friends, so it was nice to get to know new people. I am not used to performing, or being out in the public, so this was a great opportunity to get used to being in front of large crowds, even though they were really looking at “Bob the Builder” and not me!

3. What are your long-term goals? How does this experience connect to your long-term goals?

My long-term goal is to be successful and happy, and to use my creativity in my career. I haven’t decided if I will be an educator or a business person. Either way, my future will include public appearances, and participating in the parade was a good chance for me to get more comfortable with large crowds.

4. Describe what you consider to be an “ideal citizen” of your community. What qualities do they possess? What values do they hold? Are they involved in the community?

An ideal citizen is a person who really gets involved in our community. Some are leaders taking charge of projects, and some are real hands on workers, who make things happen. They volunteer in the community because they take pride in the community, and because they want to make it an even better place to live. They don’t volunteer to make themselves look good – they volunteer to make a difference.

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