The Christmas spirit is alive and well at the Big Hill Lodge.

It's a warm glowing feeling that fills the room at their annual Christmas party when children (and in some cases grandchildren) join their parents for a festive dinner. There's plenty of chatter in the packed dining area. The upbeat music of the band "Silence in B'Tween" is popular with the crowd.

When lead singer John Hogdson and his band struck up "Here Comes Santa Claus" all eyes turn to the entrance. Cheers and rhythmic clapping echo through the room when Mr. and Mrs. Claus arrive. The couple distributes gifts to all residents with the assistance of some helpful elves.

The evening is considered the biggest social event of the year at the lodge, says Kim Maclure, social and leisure coordinator. Instead of tickets, the lodge accepts non-perishable food donations for the Activettes food bank from visitors.

The party follows on the steps of their annual Christmas light tour Dec. 11.

It's now a 15-year tradition of the lodge to invite residents to enjoy a quick tour through some of the residential areas of town to view some spectacular displays. Along the way, they select their favourite three. The families receive a handcrafted placard to place on their property.

It's not meant to be townwide judging, rather it's a social activity that remains popular among residents. 

"It's something we've been doing for a while to have some fun," she says of the tradition that started long before she joined the lodge's staff. "It just caught on, so we do it, not in a competitive spirit as much as a way to make it a lot more fun."

The tour lasts for about 1 1/2 hours, and the lodge's bus accommodates 14 residents. There's never a shortage of people signed up to participate.

Maclure says it was tough to choose among the many spectacularly-decorated homes

Favourites were:

  • 1st: Steve & Stella Fonnyadt, 20 Bow. Point
  • 2nd: Charlotte Toner, 153 Baird Ave.
  • 3rd: Michele Somerville, 6 Bow Close