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Winter Wonderland in jeopardy unless volunteers step forward

A long running event in Unity needs community volunteers to step forward in order to keep it going

UNITY - Started more than a decade ago by Unity Credit Union to replace the defunct winter lights parade, Winter Wonderland became an annual event the first Thursday of December to act as a community Christmas kick off. 

Megan Schweitzer, marketing manager at Unity Credit Union, enlisted the help of Unity Economic Development Director Carey Baker, and community volunteer, Sherri Solomko to help expand the event by approaching downtown businesses to open later that evening and/or host a sale, activity, or special event to encourage more people to take part. Bryce Wotyiuk came on board for a few years, as did Hollie Robertson.

However, with Bryce Woytiuk stepping away in 2019, after several years on the organizing committee, and Carey Baker moving for employment with the City of Saskatoon, longtime committee member, Sherri Solomko, has also said, after multiple years as an organizer, she is stepping away.

That means, unless a group, organization or individuals step forward, Winter Wonderland festivities may be in jeopardy of not taking place in Unity this year. 

The event evolved from sleigh rides and hot chocolate hosted by the team at Unity Credit Union in efforts to encourage people to come downtown and enjoy that experience and hopefully encourage them to visit their downtown businesses. Winter Wonderland exploded with live music performances, scavenger hunt, downtown music, bell ringers, street hockey, tree decorating contest and much more. In 2020, even with the pandemic close to home, an expanded winter lights parade was well received by both parade entries and parade watchers.

“I would be more than happy to pass on notes from past year’s organizing of this traditional event," Solomko says. "More often than not, we just had to affirm the date, decide on the skeletal basic plan, set up a Facebook event page and get the chamber’s help to circulate a letter as to who was interested in coming on board, the rest of it just fell into place.

“I loved this event and seeing how it grew every year. It was fun to watch downtown buzzing with excitement and activity and give businesses an opportunity to capitalize on increased traffic for a few hours on this Thursday night in December. We were always amazed at the creativity of people who hosted events as well as seeing new people come on board each year with something to take part in."

The ongoing pandemic may or may not play a factor in how Winter Wonderland is hosted in 2021. But, unless someone or some group steps forward, this long running activity may no longer be an option.


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