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Santa and the rescue reptiles

Owen Feener tells Santa what he wants for Christmas at the Dayspring and District Fire Department's children's Christmas party a couple of years ago. Owen has attended the popular community party since he was a baby. Owen's dad and fire chief, Mark Feener, also first attended the party as a baby. To be held this year on Dec. 7, the event has been organized by volunteers for more than 40 years.
Owen Feener tells Santa what he wants for Christmas at the Dayspring and District Fire Department's children's Christmas party a couple of years ago. Owen has attended the popular community party since he was a baby. Owen's dad and fire chief, Mark Feener, also first attended the party as a baby. To be held this year on Dec. 7, the event has been organized by volunteers for more than 40 years. - Peter Simpson

A community children’s Christmas party that offers hot dogs, candy jar guessing game, colouring contest, tasty treats and Santa Claus arriving in a fire truck will certainly ensure a fun time for the youngsters.

Throw in a reptile show that includes an interactive presentation and meet-‘n’-greet with a lizard, snake, alligator and more? Now that’s a rare experience that will thrill and captivate those kids.

For more than 40 years, children whose families reside in communities served by the Dayspring and District Fire Department have attended fun-filled Christmas parties at the fire hall.

Organized by the fire department’s auxiliary committee, this year’s much-anticipated free event will be held on Saturday, Dec. 7 from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Donna Corkum got involved in the early days and continues to be a member of the organizing team today.

“It’s wonderful seeing children of all ages having fun. And the adults – parents and grandparents included – relish the party just as much. It’s a great community event, three hours of pure enjoyment,” said Corkum.

Mark Feener’s parents took him to the Christmas party when he was a baby. Now Dayspring’s fire chief and a senior engineer with Halifax Water, Feener takes his own two young sons to the party every year.

“I remember Mark as a baby, sitting on the floor, looking around at all the other children,” said Corkum.

Corkum’s son and daughter also attended the party as babies. Kevin Corkum is now a full-time captain with Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency, while sister Tanya Garber is a registered nurse at South Shore Regional Hospital. Like Feener, both Corkum and Garber now take their children to the popular party.

Festivities this year will include tried-and-true favourites, such as treat bags from Santa, a colouring contest, tasty snacks, and a visit to the truck bays to speak with firefighters and sit in their fire trucks.

“The volunteers try to make the event fun for the children by introducing new activities, so there is always something different and enjoyable for the kids who attend the party year after year,” said Corkum.

This year’s feature attraction will be a one-hour visit from Lisa Janes, co-owner of Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo, the largest reptile rescue group in Canada. Janes will introduce an assortment of her favourite friends.

“All the animals came to us as rescues. Our Dayspring show, which starts at 10:15 a.m., will be geared toward introducing all the animals to the children, with a focus on conservation and responsible pet ownership,” said Janes, whose privately-funded organization is located in Mount Uniacke.

“There will be an informal meet-‘n’-greet with the animals after the show, when the children will be given opportunities to see the animals up close, touch them, ask questions and take photos,” she added.

Janes said the children who attend her shows are usually beside themselves with pure excitement.

“Many boys and girls have not been so close to these types of animals before, so we often get an overwhelmingly positive response from them,” she said.

The wheelchair-accessible Dayspring fire hall is located at 13177 Hwy. 3, Upper LaHave.

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