Posted by Alana Hirtle on Nov 27, 2018
Santa tends to make frequent pre-Christmas appearances south of his Arctic home, yet is rarely seen before the big day in northern regions! Due to this unfortunate irony, children living in the remote communities along the Labrador Coast don’t have a chance to pass on their Christmas list or have a chat with the guy in person. So started a tradition some 58 years ago by personnel of the Royal Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force stationed in Goose Bay. They would collect gifts for the children living on the coast, pile it all aboard a DeHaviland Single Otter on skis and head off to the coast. When ice conditions permitted, Santa would land on the harbour and hold audience and dispense gifts. When conditions were poor, gifts were often dropped by parachute!
In 1990 the operation was handed off to the Rotary Club of Happy Valley-Goose Bay who have maintained the tradition to this day. The format has changed a bit. They now have landing strips at all the communities and are not allowed to throw anything from the aircraft anymore! But every year the club congregates at Universal Helicopters’ hanger to put together up to 700 gift bags for the kids on the coast. Then it is off to Air Borealis’ hanger where the gifts along with Santa and Rotary Elves board a DeHaviland Twin Otter for points north. The club owes a huge thank you to Universal Helicopters and Air Borealis for their unwavering support over the years.
Visited communities usually take this opportunity to hold grand holiday events including Santa Clause Parades by ski-doo! There are always large crowds to greet Santa despite temperatures which can dip as low as -30C. Frost laden eyebrows and scarves are common sights on the ramp, but the program continues to be a great catalyst not only for club fellowship, but also for connecting with remote regional communities.
The Rotary Club of Yarmouth hosts “Ugly Sweater” day as their final meeting in December; guests are welcome and the “business” program is slanted to being social. Prizes are given for Best Sweater and Honourable mention. If they have any awards, notations, happy moments, etc they are handed out at this time...they make sure the meeting is light-hearted and a bit of a celebration of a year of good work and fellowship.
Fund raising is saved for mid January, when they have a lunch meeting and undertake “The Crap You Got for Christmas and Mystery Booze Auction”. If they raise over $1,000 at the auction, local car dealership Murray Motors gives them a $500 donation!! The club hits over and above that goal each year. Guests are again welcome and there are lots of laughs...a great way to start off the year!
The Rotary Club of Truro participated in the town’s Annual Santa Claus Parade on November 17th.  It was a cold 2.5 km walk for the 15 Rotarians and friends who accompanied the float through the streets of town passing out candy canes and exchanging Christmas greetings. Thanks to Richard Bowness and Truro Toyota for loan of the truck and trailer and to Brian Matthews, Wayne Gillis and Jim Gould who headed up efforts to design and decorate the float.