Article from St Albert Leader on family day

http://www.stalbertleader.com/2014/01/16/fire-dept-rescues-family-day/

St. Albert firefighters are used to rescuing people and pets. Now, they’re rescuing the city’s Family Day festivities.

The International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2130, which represents St. Albert Fire Services employees, has taken over the planning of festivities for the long weekend in February, and will present the Family Day Fire and Ice Festival on Monday, Feb. 17, at Lacombe Lake Park.

logo-iafflocal2130 cmykIAFF Local 2130 president Warren Gresik said that the festival is a great way for firefighters to reach out to the community.

“When the City (of St. Albert) did approach us to ask if there was any interest, it was kind of a no-brainer,” Gresik said. “The fire department ties into the community and the ‘fire and ice’ aspect, and we thought this was kind of an opportunity to give back to the community as well.”

Family Day festivities started in St. Albert in 2011 as part of the city’s 150th anniversary celebrations. In 2012 and 2013, they were organized by the Spirit of St. Albert Society, which was formed to carry forward some of the events created for the 150th anniversary.

But, with SOSA regrouping and focusing on other events in 2014, the firefighters have stepped up to take over Family Day.

Gresik is hoping to bring out about 5,000 people to the festival, and so far, there are lots of events planned, including pond hockey games, coffee can curling, family skating, sleigh rides and even fire artist performances.

“We’re trying to get as many activities as we possibly can,” he said. “I’m confident that, when Feb. 17 does roll around, it’ll be a great event.”

The Fire and Ice Festival will also raise money for Muscular Dystrophy Canada, which is a favourite charity of firefighters across the country.

While the firefighters have only had about two weeks to plan the festival so far, Gresik said the response from the community has been great.

“Our guys are pretty resilient; we’re going to do our best to make it a wonderful event, and I’m confident we’ll succeed,” he said. “So far, it’s positive feedback from the sponsors we have heard from. We think we exemplify that community spirit, and there are a lot of businesses in town that feel the same way.”

Last year, Lacombe Lake Park was unavailable for Family Day festivities after a hole was cut in the ice on the lake, making it unsafe for skating. SOSA moved the event to Lions Park, but attendance suffered.

Gresik said they’re relieved and excited to have Lacombe Lake Park back in shape.

“It’s such a great family area,” he said. “With the fire department, we assist public works with checking the ice levels and stuff, and just looking around there, what a beautiful area it is.”

 

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