Many residents of Lytton and the surrounding area feel left out by politicians, as the town looks a lot like it was the day after a fire that destroyed most of it on June 30, with little sign of cleaning up , not to mention reconstruction. Prime Minister Trudeau didn’t help matters when he referred to Lytton in the past tense at the COP26 climate conference in November.
Santa, however, has not forgotten Lytton, and with the help of many dedicated and generous volunteers and local organizations, he will visit the city on December 23, the culmination of more than a week of celebrations, donations and festivities.
It all started on Monday, December 13, when 80 volunteers came together to pack 500 Christmas baskets for Lytton and area residents. Nonie McCann, one of the organizers of âSanta Comes to Lytton,â said the cart event started when David Choi, owner of Lytton AG Foods – the town’s grocery store, which was destroyed in the fire – contacted her in October.
âDavid said he wanted to bring Christmas presents to the people of Lytton, so we talked. This was before the highways closed, and we were hoping to be able to transport the baskets to crowded places. “
With many of Lytton’s approximately 250 residents scattered across the province, the area is home to several thousand people, and McCann began to reach out, asking how many there were in each of the communities around Lytton. The planning committee was made up of representatives from all the local bands, and soon five different organizations, along with the food bank, added $ 30,000 to complete Choi’s donation.
McCann says they initially wanted to include a turkey with each of the 500 baskets, but that quickly proved difficult, given the turkey shortage caused by recent flooding.
âWe called the suppliers in the Lower Mainland, and they told us the turkeys were $ 14 a kilo, which would have used up all the money. So instead of making turkeys, everyone will get a package of meat with ham, bacon, and chicken breasts. “
It all started from there, says McCann.
âArea groups normally do their own fetters, but this year we are all participating in a great thing that includes everyone in every region within a 30 mile radius. It’s incredible; the best thing we’ve been involved with.
The area has been badly affected by the destruction of Route 1 to the north and south, and the community of Nicomen is completely cut off by the road. McCann says baskets will be delivered there by Helicopters Without Borders.
With the basket project underway, McCann says people started discussing all the other things they were doing on Christmas and wondered what else they could do this year; that is why, on December 14, the Christmas lights and decorations will be mounted. The usual village lights and decorations were all destroyed in the fire, but longtime Lytton resident Denise O’Connor, who was staying in Quesnel during the summer, was in the Canadian Tire store.
âShe mentioned where she was from and said all the lights were on, so someone at Canadian Tire went to fill a caddy with lights and decorations and said, ‘You can have them. Denise told them she couldn’t give a receipt, and they said it was okay.
O’Connor’s daughter went to the Quesnel Rotary group, and they participated with even more enlightenment.
âPeople want to help so badly, and people find a way,â says McCann. âWe can’t put them where we normally do, because there is no electricity in town, so we put them around the forest base on the way to town from the south entrance, where there is there is electricity. “
On December 20 there will be a Santa Claus parade, and on December 21 and 22 there will be a craft fair / farmer’s market at the Kumsheen ShchEma-meet school resilience center, which is still open despite the closure of school due to highway flooding. McCann says they are also trying to host a family event at the school or at the Stein Valley Hall on December 22.
Then on December 23, the Two Rivers Community Service Society will set up a Christmas tree and welcome Santa himself at the Kumsheen Rafting Resort, just north of town.
âThe Lytton Volunteer Fire Department will be taking Santa Claus there on a fire truck, so the kids can visit him. There will be a fire pit and hot dogs, and we’re trying to line up a photographer so they can take pictures; we also hope to have a Lillooet choir.
Many people and organizations came together to make sure everything happened, including Nlha-7kamx Child and Family Services, Lytton First Nation, Nlaka’pamux Health, Stein Valley Nlakapamux School and the Lytton Food Bank.
McCann says this shows that Santa has not forgotten the area, adding that it has been a “phenomenal” experience working with everyone and seeing so much kindness, gratitude and care after months at home. face one disaster after another.
âIt’s so nice to do something positive here. Things are so depressing, and that’s how I keep moving forward, working with people to do things together. We avoid bureaucrats with rules and get things done.
Wildfires in British Columbia 2021Lytton