Each year Kinette volunteers gather together to light up the night for seniors around the City, with their annual tour having occured on Dec. 15th this year.
The purpose of the tour is to bring some joy to seniors who may not be otherwise able to enjoy the festive decorations around the City. Fifteen lodges and facilities participated in the tour, but organizer Lisa Martin said they are always willing to add new facilities to the tour.
“The seniors don’t get out to see the lights usually. Once they are in a home, some of them are assisted living or some like the Michener residents are stuck at their lodges and don’t really have anybody to take them out,” Martin explained.
“We get the use of City buses and go to 15 different lodges and pick them up.”
The Kinettes also prepare a gathering of goodies at the Westerner to follow the lights tour, thanks to the help of local grocery stores and independent volunteers.
“We pick them up and take them on a 45 minute tour and then take them back to the Westerner for hot beverages and baking. All of the cookies and other baking is donated by local grocery stores, and one of our members. She volunteers to make 1,000 cookies a year for us and we always donate a gift card back to her, which she always tries giving back to us,” Martin laughs.
Martin said the event isn’t restricted to seniors in lodges and those wishing to participate privately may gather at the Golden Circle for registration and pick-up.
“It’s strictly for seniors, but they don’t have to be in a lodge to enjoy the tour. We have people that meet up at the Golden Circle, and we pick them up there to join us. They can sign up there and we will pick them up for the tour,” she said.
“This year we’ve got some residents from Michener and it’s the first time they are coming. The first time for Collegeside residents as well.
“There’s a lot of lodges and senior facilities that aren’t even on my list yet and if they would like us to call them and give them information, we’re more than happy to have them.”
The tradition began many years ago with the Red Deer Kinsmen Club and was passed onto the Kinettes nine years ago. Martin and her volunteer colleagues have been organizing and participating in the event since then. She said the tours began with 50 seniors and will facilitate 250 people this year.
The Kinettes rely on community participation to gain awareness of the most-decorated areas to take the seniors. Citizens can call in to notify of highly-decorated areas, and City bus drivers lend their knowledge of the City to the tour.
For future reference, the tours are an annual tradition and do require registration. Representatives from seniors’ lodges and homes can contact the Kinettes to sign up, and private residents can register at the Golden Circle for pick-up.