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Rotary Carol Festival continues Fort Macleod tradition of joy, friendship

choir

The first and second wards of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The annual Rotary Carol Festival is traditionally held in the F.P. Walshe school gymnasium.
But when the gym wasn‘t available this year due to the modernization project, the Rotary Club of Fort Macleod was not deterred.
“The Rotary Carol Festival tradition is not about location,” Rotary secretary Angie O’Connor said. “It’s about joy, friendship and fellowship.”
With the school gym unavailable, the Rotary Club turned to the Fort Macleod Alliance Church.
Alliance Church Pastor Ralph Light said he was at first concerned the building wouldn’t be large enough but on Sunday night was pleased to see the crowd of about 200 people fit with room to spare.
“We’re so delighted to be your hosts here tonight,” said Pastor Light, who gave a prayer to start the evening. “We hope you have a great time of fellowship.”
Proceeds from the carol festival will go to Fort Macleod Kids First Family Centre. Admission was by a free will offering.
In addition to supporting Fort Macleod causes such as Kids First, the Rotary Club does work outside the community.
As an example of Rotary’s work in the greater world, O’Connor cited the first international project started in 1979 to immunize children in the Philippines against polio.
By 2012 only three countries remained polio endemic.
The Rotary Club of Fort Macleod also purchased a temporary shelter through the Shelterbox program that was sent to help people displaced by the conflict in Iraq.
O’Connor also noted the Rotary Club this year bought old fire trucks from the Town of Fort Macleod and MD of Willow Creek that will be sent to communities in Mexico.
With the new venue, there were a few surprises at the carol festival.
The first came when members of the Alliance Church choir stood in the darkened room at the start to sing Here I Am to Worship.
As the choirs moved onto the stage, Laura Martin and Angie O’Connor led the audience in singing Christmas carols.
The Welcome Mat Singers took the stage next to sing Mary’s Little Boy Child and It’s a Marshmallow World in the Winter under the direction of Dawn Orr with accompaniment by Audrey Burton.
Holy Cross Catholic Church Choir then sang Infant Holy and Beautiful Star of Bethlehem under the direction of Heather Hamacher with accompaniment from Charlene Furman.
Christ Church Anglican Choir, accompanied by Carole Cressman, sang O Come Holy Saviour and Is There Room at the Manger For Me.
The first and second wards of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sang Lullaby For Christmas and Merry Christmas Once Again. Ashley Nelson was director and Mandi Orr was the accompanist.
The church went dark, lighted only by the candles held by members of the Alliance Church Choir who stood along the walls as they sang O Holy Night under the direction of Petula Hofer with accompaniment by Karen Feenstra.
And although the Rotarians did not assemble a choir, the carol festival ended in traditional style with everyone joining to sing Let There Be Peace On Earth.

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