Lights went out but not the festive spirit

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INNISFAIL – It was a community Christmas dinner with a saviour.

Johns Manville held its second annual Family Christmas Turkey Dinner at the Innisfail United Church on Dec. 18.

Everything was going smoothly when suddenly the power went out.

“We blew a breaker somehow. It was right in the middle of dinner, probably around 5:30 p.m.,” said Cathy Ouellette, human resources manager. “There was a gentleman there who knew the church and knew where to find the breaker. We had an unsung hero who turned the lights back on for us,” she added.

“There was a great round of applause.”

Ouellette said guests adapted well to the 20- to 30-minute outage and noted the meal was not impacted in any way. No one complained or was upset over the mishap.

“We were still serving meals even with the lights out,” she said. “It was a little hiccup but we survived.”

Despite the short interruption, the annual dinner was enjoyed by hundreds of Innisfail and area residents.

“Overall it was a great success. We had approximately 400 people come for dinner. We also served about 100 take home meals as well,” explained Ouellette. “We had containers for people that wanted to take a meal home to someone that couldn’t get out to the dinner,” she added, noting there was a total of 500 people served.

More than 50 volunteers from Johns Manville helped out during the dinner, including 33 employees and their family members, as well as several students from Innisfail High School’s leadership group.

The event raised funds and donations for two local charities.

“We raised over $1,500 for the Innisfail Christmas Bureau from ticket sales, and we also collected 308 pounds of food for the Innisfail and District Food Bank,” said Ouellette.

“We had a cookie table for people to take cookies home and we also had a table for the kids that had candy and beautiful kits, donated by Innisfail Family Dental,” she added. “We also received books donated by the Henday learning centre for the kids.”

Ouellette said with the large crowd, the Christmas dinner was busy at times but people were patient and all had a good time.

“It was a great night,” said Ouellette. “It was really great to see the community come out, meet us all and support our efforts.”

Cathy Ouellette, human resources manager

“We had an unsung hero who turned the lights back on for us.”

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Kristine Jean

Kristine Jean is a reporter with the Innisfail Province, joining the newspaper in 2013. She covers Penhold municipal politics, news and community events as well as sports in and around the town as well as in Innisfail.