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"Judi and Gary video wishing you all a Happy Holiday season and a very Merry Christmas"

Christmases Past…


By Gary McWilliams

I am sure that we all have memories of the Christmas season, whether we celebrate Christmas or not. In my case, I do celebrate it and have fond memories of past Christmases, especially as a child and a young man!

One of my most vivid memories was of “snooping”! I wasn’t very old, perhaps 7 or 8. My mother was very secretive (like most mothers) about what she was giving for Christmas. I, like most kids of that age, was very curious at what I was going to receive, thus, the “Christmas Hunt”! I started my search looking in the most obvious places! NOTHING! My mother was “sneaky”, so I began looking in the less obvious places. One such place was my bedroom, a bedroom that I shared with my older brother, Chuck. In the room was a set of high-up cupboards. They were above closets, but easy to reach from our bunkbeds. Yes, Chuck and I had bunkbeds. Mine was the top bunk. One of my greatest joys was climbing out of bed and stepping on Chuck’s face. Well, that was another story, for another time! Anyway, one day when that house was quiet, I scrambled from my top bunk to the high-up cupboards. After I had climbed in, I started to look around for anything suspicious. Eureka, it was there! I carefully undid the package, making sure that my “snooping” wouldn’t be discovered! With a great deal of trouble and excitement, I opened the package! I knew that it was mine, because my name was written on the tag! I held my breath, as the present was revealed! Much to my HORROR, it was a pair of SOCKS! Would my mother have been that “sneaky”? You find this hard to believe, but I never SNOOPED again!

Another Christmas (I was a little older), I received a really “neat” metal classic replica “kit” car. The “classic” car needed to be assembled! I looked at the box and its contents, puzzled. How was I going to put the car together to play with it? I made the mistake of saying something to that effect “out loud”! Suddenly, simultaneously both my brother’s and father’s eye “lite-up”! For the next several hours I was pushed to the side, while the 2 “experts” tried to assemble (play) with MY Christmas present! Needless to say that it took them most of the day to “figure it” out! After all was done, they did ALLOW me to play with MYClassic Replica Kit Car”. That is, after they had had their turn!

My next and final Christmas story was the year I turned 17. I had just received, that summer, my permanent “Driver’s Licence”. I was now allowed to drive on my own! It was Christmas morning and the tradition was to drive to Toronto’s Beaches area to pick-up my Grandfather. That morning my mother passed me her car keys and said “You go and pick-up Grampa.” I looked at her questioningly and muttered “ME, ALONE?”. She said, “YES, YOU!”. And so, with a “racing heart”, I took the keys and started the long trip from Etobicoke (west Toronto) to The Beaches (east Toronto). I couldn’t believe my good fortune! Here I was alone and in control of my mother’s car! It was fairly early in the morning and most of Toronto’s residents was busy opening their presents. As a result, the roads were fairly empty (hard to believe in this day and age!). What a magnificent trip! I picked up my Grandfather and together we traveled back to Etobicoke. It was time to “bond”! After that, each Christmas, it was a “family tradition” for me to go to The Beaches to pick-up Grampa Lamb!


"The Twins and Carol on their Winter Camel... which one is Judi?"

Imagination makes for the best time! Any Holiday, Any Season, Any Time!


By Judi “Scoop” McWilliams

Many stories can be shared about peoples’ “favorite Christmases”.

My memories around Christmas are more of the Season itself.

Growing up my “older sister” and “twin sister” and I shared many “Adventures”!

When we “played” together as kids, it was always an Adventure! My older sister, being artistic, always created a magical Winter Season for us.  For example, she did not just help “the twins” make a snowman … she made a “giant camel” for all of to “ride”!

We made igloos to hide in for our snowball battles.

We slept outside in the snow on our “flying saucers” watching the stars until the snowflakes came down, creating another magical experience!

Life was simple back then. Folks gathers to share homemade baked treats, sing songs, laugh, play games and just enjoyed being together. The food was not “just a meal”, it was an all-day ongoing “feast” … a spread available for all the neighbours and friends to come throughout the entire day to share and enjoy!

We skated by the moonlight on the flooded marsh through the forest in the back yard for hours on end.

We rolled down the hill a million times (it was too small to toboggan on, so we just rolled down like logs).

We were hardly ever inside, but when we were in, we enjoyed hot chocolate while big sister read books for “the twins”.

Being together over the Holiday Season gave us time to just be!

Christmas was not about tons of toys, or gifts. It was about watching the delight of the faces of others receiving their 1 gift, one that was so special to them it would be treasured a lifetime.

The anticipation of “Santa” coming was nice, singing songs until we fell asleep was fun.

But the best time about the Season, I say again, that brings back the fondest memories were the “Adventures”!

Now with the hustle and bustle and traveling and chaos of life, that magic from “back in the day” seems to be dwindling away.

It’s nice to reminisce and reflect, but quite frankly I still look forward to many “New Adventures to Come”!

Like walking in the snow with “Winterman” aka (the Festival Nomad) on a dark snowy winter’s night, gazing at the stars, breathing in the fresh air. What better way to spend Christmas and the Holiday Season!

Collingwood Santa Parade

"Float in the Collingwood Night-time Santa Claus parade."

Oh Canada Eh! Game Answers…

In June, we started to play the Oh Canada Eh! Game. In November 2015, five Questions about Canada have been asked. The following are the Questions with the Answers.

  1. November 1st, 2015~ (Distillery Historic District, Toronto Question)
    QUESTION: “Who were the founders of the Toronto Distillery Historic District?
    ANSWER: “Gooderham and Worts.
  2. November 8th, 2015~ (Art Gallery of Algoma, Sault Ste. Marie Question)
    QUESTION: “How many member were there in the Group of Seven?
    ANSWER: “Ten”
  3. November 15th, 2015~ (Beaverton Harbour, Beaverton Question)
    QUESTION: “What lake does the Town of Beaverton lay on?
    ANSWER: “Lake Simcoe.
  4. November 22nd, 2015~ (Sault Ste. Marie Museum, Sault Ste. Marie Question)
    QUESTION: “The Sault Ste. Marie Museum building was originally designed for who?
    ANSWER: “Canada Post.
  5. November 29th, 2015~ (Collingwood Museum, Collingwood Question)
    QUESTION: “What was Collingwood’s main industry during the 40’s and 50’s ?
    ANSWER: “Ship building.

I hope that you enjoy playing the Oh Canada Eh! Game. I’m sure that you’ll knew all the answers. Remember, all of them can be found on the Internet. I’ll let you know answers to all the November 2015 questions in our December 2015 INSIDER Newsletter.

"Parade On... video features various Marching Bands plus fun stories from Master Base Drummer, Carol Law."

Festival Nomad Report…

A number of years ago we had the opportunity to interview the “Greatest Event Organizer” ever, Mr. Santa Claus. The following is that interview in its entirety!

Exclusive Interview with the World's Greatest Event Organizer...

It was shortly before Christmas, when I started to think about how big an event it really is... perhaps the world's largest single day event! With Judi's new Blog, The INSIDE Scoop, starting in January, we thought that an interview with the world's greatest event organizer would be in order. With that thought in mind, we managed to arrange for an exclusive interview with the master himself, St. Nick! The following is the interview in its entirety.

Festival Nomad (FN) - As events of this size normally take a year or more to plan, what is your most difficult challenge?

Santa Clause (SC) - "The initial planning. Having a clear direction, a set of detailed goals and a realistic budget are the keys. Once you have these challenges worked out, everything else falls into place."

FN - What is your greatest reward and why do you do this every year?

SC - "It's the children! Their smiling faces and joyful laughs are my greatest rewards! They are also the reason why I do this year after year!"

FN - Don't you get bored?

SC - "No, not at all. The world is ever changing, children grow up, babies are born, and new toys are developed. It's an enormous challenge, but one that keeps me alive and interested!"

FN - This may seem to be an odd question, but what do you do when you need a washroom break?

SC - "I've learned from past experience not to drink, especially coffee, before my worldwide trip! Fortunately this is not a problem for me! Unfortunately, it's the reindeer that haven't learned yet, especially Rudolph!"

FN - How do you keep your Elves happy and motivated?

SC - "We've been doing this for a very long time, and I have learned over the years that happy Elves work the best! I treat them with respect, give them well defined jobs and we all have a lot of fun while we are working. The key is that we work as a team. I also keep reminding them why we are working so hard and what a worthwhile endeavour Christmas is!"

FN - With the economic turndown, how are you cooping?

SC - "Unfortunately, like everyone else, we are affected by the economy. Over the years we have developed the goodwill of the worldwide community and they have been helping me through these difficult times. Also, like I said before, we develop a very realistic budget at the beginning of the year and then work to that budget. We also try to have a contingency plan in place just in case a catastrophe occurs."

FN - Do you ever get tired of the "standard" event refreshments (milk and cookies) that are served?

SC - "I obviously like it in small quantities, but it does become a bit routine after a while. I prefer the more healthy food in the long run. After all, I do have to watch my waist line! Mrs. Claus is always reminding me about my weight! Fortunately Christmas comes only once a year, so a little over indulgence doesn't hurt too much! Beside, throughout the rest of the year I manage to eat properly. We've even set up an exercise room for the Elves and me! I exercise pretty much every day. Got to keep in shape for the rigors of the job!"

FN - Since you're such a great organizer, how come you don't do other events throughout the year?

SC - "To be honest with you, Christmas is a huge endeavor. It takes a lot of time and effort by myself and my team to do it right. It is such a great and important event that I don't want to take anything away from it by deluding my time, effort and resources on other projects.

FN - Is that why Christmas is just a one day event?

SC - "Yes, that's right. We've thought about expanding, but when it came right down to it we felt that the extra days weren't worth the effort. The increased manpower, cost and time just didn't make sense. Besides, we've seen others try to run longer events and most seem to have fallen flat."

FN - Your event is very well publicized, how do you do it"

SC - "Well, as you know, experience is a great teacher. Over the years we've managed our advertising budget wisely and we have formed many important partnerships. As a result Christmas has grown over the years from a small idea to a large movement! Now, everywhere you go, the magic of Christmas is in the air! Creating this effect, as an event planner, has been both fun and challenging!"

FN - So, Santa, what do you do the day after Christmas?

SC - "Good question! I guess I'm like everyone else, I kick off my shoes and lie back in my favourite easy chair! Too much milk and cookies! However, in the days following Christmas, I get together with the Elves and we discuss how everything went. We look at both the good and bad and try to figure out how we can make next year that much better! After that, we have one heck a party! We want to enjoy each other’s company and celebrate a job well done!"

FN - Santa, thank you very much for the interview. You've given us a lot to think about. Your expertise is invaluable. Do you have anything else that you would like to share with our readers?

SC - "I just want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year! And remember, I know who's been naughty and nice!

Santa Blue Mountain

"Wishing  you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year."