Holiday spirit in the air

A history of the annual Wilmer Christmas Eve fireworks

Submitted by Harmony Hemmelgarn

It’s that time of year when pumpkin spice is replaced with apple spice and Christmas lights start to sparkle here and there. The time of year for giving back and cherishing relationships closest to you. The hustle and bustle of the holidays has yet to start for most, but in my family home, holiday planning has already begun with the Wilmer Christmas Eve fireworks show preparation underway. For those of you who are familiar, you are aware of this family tradition that has flourished into a festive community event. The show is set in Wilmer on Christmas Eve, against a backdrop of beautifully decorated homes. Staged with bonfires, holiday music, and hot chocolate, it is truly a magical holiday event.

The tradition started on Christmas Eve 15 years ago, organized by my dad, Pat Hemmelgarn, attended by a few family members in memory of my brother Tyral. The fireworks were a way to bring us together for remembrance and appreciation. In years to follow, residents of Wilmer started donating in the spirit of the community and the holidays. The event was moved into town for all to see and has evolved into a community tradition! Each year, starting November 1st my dad goes door to door in Wilmer collecting donations and to businesses in Invermere spreading the word of the Wilmer Christmas Eve fireworks. On Christmas Eve, prep is fully underway with my dad and Shawn Murray furiously setting up the fireworks, hot chocolate being prepped and fire wood being prepared for the bonfires. Then the countdown begins.

I am so proud of my dad’s dedication and time in ensuring this event continues each year. On behalf of my family, we appreciate the residents and businesses who donate; without these funds, the event would not be what it is today. A special thanks to Shawn Murray for his dedication each year in providing his fireworks credentials and assisting Dad with the set up/set off of the amazing light show, also for providing the holiday music beforehand. Thank you to Kootenay Coffee Works for providing the yummy hot chocolate that warms everyone’s tummies and to Local View Printing & Design for donating flyers to advertise the event.

If you are looking to experience a festive local event and partake in the amazing community spirit, head to Wilmer on Christmas Eve. The show starts at 8 p.m. (Note: donations will be gratefully accepted at the hot chocolate table.)

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