OHSWEKEN — On Thursday December 10, community members and families gathered within the New Directions parking lot to ride a choice of two horse-drawn carriages provided by Touch the Past, whilst singing Christmas carols.
The carriages were headed by two draft horses, and carolers were accompanied by music speakers to carry the sounds of the season to houses passed by on their venture through Ohsweken.
Inside the building, visitors were met by “Santa’s elves” and were asked if they would like apple cider, coffee or tangerines before meeting Santa.
Addictions Outreach Worker and one of the main coordinators for the event, Debora Martin, explained that she enjoys the event and that it’s one of her “favourites.”
“This is about the third year we’ve had this running,” said Martin. “And it’s about making memories with your family, and being substance free. It’s about connecting and building relationships with your family and friends, and it’s a good way to get together to do some caroling. We had everybody singing and caroling throughout the back trail here,” she said as she motioned behind the New Directions building.
“We had 150 [people] registered and 120 showed, that was last year. This year we had a 140 and I would estimate probably about a 115 [showed], so it’s roughly the same and it’s a good turn out,” she said. “The first year we did it at different schools — at I.L. Thomas, O.M. Smith, and here — so there were different areas on three different nights. Last year we had it here [at New Directions] and this year we had it here, because it was much easier to go around in a circuit in Ohsweken and it’s not so long. But last year we had snow, I was praying for snow this year,” she said with a laugh.
In regards to how long the event took to organize including booking the horse and carriage, Martin explained that it did take a while.
“It takes a while because you have to do the researching of what person to go with, and the safety factors, and that’s actually why we had it lit up and with vehicles following behind for safety,” she said, explaining that the car trailing behind the carriages not only offered lighting, but helped to ensure safety of the carolers.
“We like to put this on to give to the community, and it’s all about like I said, having relationships and living a substance free lifestyle, and it’s also another way of connecting. Our goal is to provide different opportunities and events to the community that are substance free,” she said.
To top off the night, one of Santa’s Elves handed out bags with the slogan “Committed to a Substance Free Life, Merry Christmas from New Directions,” which each contained a red fleece blanket decorated with reindeer and snowflakes. The event ended with a nice farewell to New Directions staff, with cups of warm cider and a memory that won’t soon be forgotten.
CC1: Carolers went through a twenty minute circuit through Ohsweken on horse drawn carriages, and returned to enjoy hot apple cider and meet Santa inside the New Directions Building.
CC2: Debora Martin poses with Santa and one of his elves in the lovely decorated room reserved for guests to meet with Santa.