Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for December 4, 2012

Mayor turns elf to get Santa on the road

Mayor Dan Curtis will be joined by at least two other council members this Christmas as they add “elf” to their résumés.

By Stephanie Waddell on December 4, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Mayor Dan Curtis will be joined by at least two other council members this Christmas as they add “elf” to their résumés.

Curtis, along with councillors John Streicker and Kirk Cameron, have volunteered to work as Santa’s elf chauffeurs as the city makes changes to a 20-year-plus tradition.

Santa had normally made his way through the city in the days leading up to Christmas in a garbage truck decked out with colourful lights and decorations.

He was unavailable last year because of medical reasons. This year, city officials had proposed changes to the tradition.

They included:

• using a one-tonne instead of a garbage truck, because the one he had used has been retired and sold by the city;

• not lighting up the truck while it’s travelling on the road; and

• a number of other changes aimed at safety.

An outcry from the community – including a Facebook page protesting the changes – saw the matter taken to council.

Members eventually voted to go ahead with:

• the one-tonne truck being made to look like a garbage truck;

• having Santa be driven around by a volunteer elf;

• hiring Santa from the ranks of the Canadian Cancer Society’s Santa rental program; and

• possibly having the truck lit while on the road, provided approval comes from the territorial motor vehicles branch and the city’s safety committee.

In a statement Monday, the city confirmed those plans are coming to fruition with the three council members volunteering as chauffeur elves.

In separate interviews, the four other council members explained their reasons for not volunteering in the role as elf.

Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu noted that while she’d love to take on the role, she has a full-time job and has already taken her share of time off this year.

If there’s an opportunity to volunteer on the Santa project during a weekend or off-work hours, she said she likely would.

Coun. Mike Gladish also cited work commitments. As the operations manager for the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club, he noted, this is his busiest time of year for work.

He said he’d be better able to volunteer on city initiatives during the spring, summer or fall.

Coun. Dave Stockdale explained he has some problems with his legs.

While he’s able to carefully drive his own car, he said, he wouldn’t feel confident enough to drive a one-tonne truck.

Messages left for Coun. Betty Irwin were not returned.

The elves will be driving Santa around the city Dec. 18-20 and making a donation of $1,500 to the cancer society for helping to make Santa available.

Brian Crist, the city’s director of infrastructure and operations, noted the service is by donation with the cancer society recommending in the $1,500 range for the three days’ work.

Santa will also be collecting donations for the cancer society and Whitehorse Food Bank as he makes the rounds and hands out candy canes to celebrate the festive season.

“The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) appreciates the City of Whitehorse (contribution) to our Renta Santa program,” said Tammie Hennigar, the society’s regional manager for the Yukon.

“All of the proceeds go to the CCS Camp Goodtimes, which offers three programs for children and families in B.C. and Yukon who are coping with childhood cancer.”

The camps are free for participants thanks to donations the society receives.

“I think it’s going to work out quite well,” Crist said of the fund-raising that will happen for the two organizations.

Plans are still being finalized, but it also appears the truck may be lit up with Christmas lights as it travels through Whitehorse.

“That’s the intent,” Crist said.

The city has received the exemption it needs from the motor vehicles branch to have the lit Christmas lights on the vehicle.

The city’s safety committee will now consider whether the lights will be lit.

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