The first annual Spirit Night is a success as far as organizers are concerned, because the event accomplished what it set out to do.
Graham Parsons, chair of the Spirit of Sylvan Yuletide Festival, and Mark Jones, CEO of the Central Alberta Children’s Advocacy Centre (CACAC), said the event was all about raising awareness for the centre.
The event, which kicked off a weekend full of activity to start the holiday season, had roughly 100 attendees sampling food and drinks from local restaurants.
“We said from the beginning if we had 100 people come out then we would be happy… We are very happy with the turnout and we are already planning for next year to make it even better,” said Jones.
Jones said the event will help grow the reach CACAC has in Central Alberta, adding if each person in attendance told just one person about the event and the work it has done there will be 200 more people in Central Alberta who know about it.
Parsons says he first approached CACAC as a way to expand the festival, but now is a firm supporter of the work done at the centre.
“Originally I was just looking for a way to expand our festival, but after working with the team [at CACAC] and learning about the work they are doing I am now in their corner,” Parsons said.
While the event’s main goal was to raise awareness and support for the child advocacy centre, it also continued the goal of the festival to support local organizations and businesses.
The event, which consisted of food and drink donated by roughly eight local restaurants and breweries and a silent auction, also included an impromptu discussion on hockey from three hockey greats: Brian Sutter, Ron Low and Barrie Stafford.
Parsons says the night showed the true spirit of Sylvan Lake and its residents.
“The restaurants here all agreed to donate their time and product without really knowing what was going on. Sand Castle Steakhouse is a new business in town and they were happy to be here,” said Parsons.
Jones says the spirit of the town is also showcased in the number of people who came to the event and how supportive they are of those in need.
The event and funds raised from Spirit Night does not only support CACAC, it goes into a pot to be divided between Advanced Ambulatory Care, the Food Bank, The Sylvan Lake Christmas Bureau and Community Partners.
“The people here are willing to help the vulnerable people in our society, whether that is abused children, the sick or those who are going through a difficult time,” said Jones.
A dollar amount raised from the event is not known, and neither Jones or Parsons could speculate on how much the event would raise, as this is the first year.
“I do know we could not have done this without the team over at CACAC, they are extremely professional,” said Parsons.
Jones said he was very grateful to Parsons, for reaching out and spearheading the event.
“I don’t think Sylvan Lake knows how lucky they are to have a guy like Graham in their community,” said Jones.
Both Parsons and Jones hope the event will help other communities in Central Alberta know the CACAC is there to help them and is not just for residents of Red Deer, despite being located in the city.
In the first year the centre has been opened, it has helped an estimated 800 children in abusive situations.