Fort McMurray Strong: behind the scenes

This year, for WestJet's Christmas Miracle, we hosted a Snowflake Soiree party at MacDonald Island in Fort McMurray. It took a lot of planning, a lot of love and many volunteers to pull it off. See everything that happened at
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Well this year for westjet’s christmas miracle we decided to do it up here in fort mcmurray. . . obviously, a tough year after the fire back in may. . . so we’re looking for a venue that has never been used. . . and we worked with the folks at the golf course here and they suggested. . . that we have it right here on the, one of the major fairways. . . so, it’s the first time they’ve ever done an event like this. . . when we decided to shoot in fort mcmurray we . talked to a lot of residents and government officials. . . and it just seemed that they felt a bit forgotten. . . like they needed a boost over the holidays. . so, it just became an easy decision to shoot it up here. . . westjet has been here since day one. . . we’re so involved in the community and are so proud to be. . . and this is an opportunity for us to really just say we know christmas is coming. . . and it’s going to be hard and we just wanna really celebrate and bring the community together. . . so it’s day one of the snowflake soiree. we are about to turn a regular golf course. . . into a magical winter wonderland and invite a thousand . people from fort mcmurray to attend an awesome party. . . westjet called and said we’re looking for some tents for this event. . . so this is our first time with this crew setting up this tent. . . 56 x 162. huge. huge. . . so right now we have our volunteers in, everyone here . today is a westjetter from fort mcmurray. . . they’re volunteering their time to come in and help us get ready for the party. . . we’re taking these christmas ornaments and we’re making them look like this. . . obviously adding a blue ribbon and a snowflake. and this is where the photo. . . of all the participants who come to the party will be placed. . . so that’s what they are at right now. they’ve got about a thousand to make. . . so this bad boy right here is one of our helium balloons. . . its got a diameter of about ten feet. and the plan is, is we fill this with helium,. . . it goes up, then we’re gonna put a box underneath and its gonna drop the presents. . . that little bucket on the bottom has 80 gifts,. . . we’re going to put it up at around 150 feet. . . we’ve got a little mechanism to open the box . and this is our first test so we’re gonna see how it goes. . . 3, 2, 1. . . there's so many coming out that it's vomiting. they’re not getting the space to. . . if you notice some of them didn't, they went all the way. to the ground. . . that’s not good cause this probably would be landing on top of people right now. . . and it’s almost like, see those ones on top there they haven’t been opened. . . then they just come shooting right through the middle. and they can’t get their chutes open. . . think we just have to play with the delivery mechanism a bit. so the good news is,. . . we thought that they would drift a lot further, so they did come pretty much straight down. . . so that helps with our planning and safety. and now we’ll just have to see. . . if we can come up with a way to spread them out a bit more when they come down. . . the crew has done an amazing amount of work in one day. the structure is now up. . . the tent is is up and ready to go. they’re now decorating the inside. . . you can see this great open front and open back. . so we wanted people, when they come up to the event,. . . be able to look right through the entire fairway. see all the lights. . . sort of live the experience. so, they’ve done an amazing job of doing that. . . well i think the challenge is that it’s it’s not an . ordinary structure. it’s everything’s a little bit crooked. . . everything’s a little bit you know, its made of fabric and not solid materials. . . it’s a temporary structure. it’s it’s it’s very delicate in that respect. . . . it needs to be sparsely dressed but but look full at the same time. . . this has been a few months in the making actually. . we started talking about this back in may,. . . throwing around ideas. we spent the last month or so coming on weekly trips. . . to get to know people in the area and interview them and . really try to understand what they’re going through. . . to really get a personal view. because you can . watch the news, you can you can hear from. . . an outsider’s point of view, you can hear about the devastation but you just. . . can’t. it’s a different thing to talk to them face to face and understand the aftermath of that. . . we never really thought we were going to lose our house. i don’t . really ever think we ever thought our home was in danger until it was gone. . . but seeing some of the reports and some some of the . aerial footage, knowing that the our house was gone. . . he neighbourhood was gone. it just leaves you with a numb feeling. . . thinking that how could this happen it was just surreal. . . we met with a number of families, and we began to talk to the . families and ask them what kinds. . . of things did you lose during the fire that you can’t replace. . . there’s no replacing irreplaceable items. so, this year . we went to our westjetters and we challenged them to find items. . . that were special to them that they’d be willing to donate to . families who lost everything in the fires. . . hello fort mcmurray. . . hello toronto. . . so we’ll just take this opportunity to just reconnect . and regroup on anything, any questions that we have. . . so this is the night before, the westjet christmas miracle . takes place tomorrow and we’re really excited. . . so we’re here at the gift drop technical rehearsal. we’ve got . the balloons up in the sky. we’ve got the gifts ready to go. . . we’re just about to test to see how the parachutes deploy . when we trigger the mechanisms. so let’s just let’s take a look. . . okay here we go. drop in 3 2 1 drop. . . it worked pretty well. looks like we dropped about 80 gifts from two balloons. . . so the challenge is tomorrow we gotta essentially quadruple that. . . i think it’s important for myself, other people here, for the . rest of the world to show fort mcmurray that we care. . . and that even in the darkest times there’s people out there . that are going to show up and show them love and support. . . this tree started in our third christmas miracle when we . were in the dominican republic. . . it gets out 30 feet in height with a light on top. 100s of ornaments . that go on but uh doesn’t look like too much right now. . . so we’ve got a lot of work to do. . . and before you know it this is going to be a spectacular . sort of showcase piece for the party. . . we are very close. we’ve just done our final walk thru. . . we’re excited, eager, we’ve been working on this for months and its. . . its just so wonderful to finally see it come to life. . . so when we sent out the invites we did include the you . know key pieces of information. . . but at the same time we wanted to keep a lot of surprises as a . surprise for the up to 1000 people that are going to be joining us here tonight. . . i am excited. i’m so excited to see the faces of all the guests . that are going to be coming walking through these doors right here. . . now every year has its own challenges and opportunities. i think this year’s a really fantastic opportunity. . . to tell a story and embrace a community that has had you know obviously,. . . a terrible year. suffered through an incredible tragedy. . . when those presents came out of the sky it was like actual magic. . . you could hear physically the crowd gasp. it was pretty amazing. . . its’ so rare to be able to feel that sense of wonder. . . this is the 5th westjet christmas miracle that we’ve . done and each one seems to have raised the bar and done. . . something a little bit more ambitious. and this is an absolutely terrific soiree. .
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