A black-and-white photo of a group of clowns with balloons and props posing for the camer.
Members of the Kalamalka Caring Klowns in 2003. Photo by Brenda Hala, as appeared in the Vernon Morning Star of September 3, 2003.

World Kindness Day

November 13 is World Kindness Day and one local organization committed to spreading kindness and laughter is the Kalamalka Caring Klowns.

In May of 1999, Carole Fawcett founded the Caring Klowns to provide therapeutic care at hospitals, care facilities, and health-related community events. The group began with about 20 volunteers who were trained in the art of clowning.

Anyone can be a clown

Since the group’s conception, they have hosted an annual fundraiser to train new volunteers. Each session covers clown history, etiquette, costumes, props, and pantomime. In 2003, Fawcett encouraged people of all personality types to join the group; in her words, “it does take a special person, someone who is compassionate and a good listener, but clowns can be very quiet people.”

In 2013, members of the Kalamalka Caring Klowns visited Agnes Van Steenburgh, a resident of Abbeyfield House, on her 102nd Birthday. They also honoured World Laughter Day with a Laughter Circle. In December of 2019, nine clowns made the rounds at the Vernon Jubilee Hospital, singing carols for patients and staff.

The Power of Empathy

Over the years they have made appearances at a number of community activities, including the Winter Carnival and I.P.E. Parades, and fundraising events such as those hosted by the Canadian Cancer Society and the Heart and Stoke Foundation.

As the COVID-19 Pandemic began to ease, the Caring Klowns could once again host their annual workshop in August of this year, under the direction of Bubbles (Doris) and Gizmo (Donna), long-time members of the organization. 

Those involved with the Kalamalka Caring Klowns embody the message of World Kindness Day, and beneath their colourful costumes, props, and personas is a profound demonstration of the power of empathy.     

 

To explore more of Vernon’s history, check out our other blog posts

Gwyneth Evans, Research and Communications Coordinator

 

 

 

 

Do you have memories of winter carnivals past?

The Vernon Winter Carnival logo. The word Vernon is written in a straight font while Winter Carnival is written in cursive. To the left of the words are two baby blue snowflakes.

Vernon Winter Carnival will be creating a series of videos – engaging local residents to tell their stories of past Vernon Winter Carnivals – allowing us to share knowledge and past experiences to future generations, thereby engaging seniors in the community through the mentoring of others. The videos will be edited and shared with the community through social media and possibly featured in schools and at an event during Vernon Winter Carnival 2023. This project is funded through the Government of Canada – New Horizons Seniors Program.

The video interviews will be conducted in mid-late August with a focus on three main questions:
  1. Tell us your memories of Vernon Winter Carnival…
  2. How has VWC impacted our community
  3. What would you like to share to our future generations about the importance of community events like Vernon Winter Carnival?
Residents wishing to be interviewed should meet the following requirements:
  • Over the age of 60
  • Lived in Vernon for at least 10 years
  • Must sign a media release allowing VWC to use their interview and image for promotional purposes
  • Must be available in August to be interviewed
  • Must have a strong, positive, connection to Vernon Winter Carnival and the Vernon Community
If you or someone you know might be interested in participating contact the Winter Carnival Society today by emailing INFO@VERNONWINTERCARNIVAL.COM or calling 250-545-2236.​

In the meantime, take a trip back in past to the 1964 Vernon Winter Carnival. 

First Stop: Winter Carnival Parade

We’re not sure what those Vikings from the Revelstoke float are doing would go over very well today, that spider float is a bit horrifying, and at least one small child is not impressed! Nonetheless, it’s a charming and entertaining journey back to a parade of the past.

Next Stop: Silver Star Mountain

This appears to be a slalom competition. We’re fairly certain those were the alpine downhill skis of the day, but it looks like people are competing downhill on Nordic cross-country skis — and admirably so! 

 

 

Vernon Winter Carnival chairman George Melvin presenting the silver plate and trophy to the new Queen Silver Star, Rhondda Oliver (Biggs), in 1961.

The Vernon Winter Carnival is always new

One thing you can be sure about with the Vernon Winter Carnival is that each year will bring something new. However, in 1961, everything was new, since that was the year the annual event began.

From radio coverage captured by CJIB (now 107.5 FM) and preserved in the Vernon Archives, we are able to relive the exciting moment the Carnival’s first ever Queen Silver Star was crowned.

Royalty and Dignitaries

As the coverage begins, announcer Jack Pollard states that the crowd of two-to-three thousand gathered on Barnard (30th) Avenue is awaiting the arrival of the Vice Regal Party, composed of Lieutenant Governor George Pearkes, Mrs. Pearkes, Lieutenant Colonel David Kinloch, and Mrs. Kinloch. Once the dignitaries arrive, they gather near a large ice palace, which was carved on the main drag for the occasion, with the Queen Silver Star participants and the visiting royalty. Queens from Trail, Summerland, Victoria, Kelowna, Vancouver, Port Alberni, Salmon Arm, and Lumby travelled to Vernon for the occasion.

Vernon: A Winter Playground

Peter Seaton, the president of the Vernon Board of Trade, then says that the occasion marks the “final lap in a long hard race to make Vernon and Silver Star a winter playground … The Carnival is going to be to Vernon like a drink to a man in the desert.” The crowd cheers, some standing around the palace, others watching from the roofs of nearby businesses or parked cars.

Queen Silver Star I accepts her crown

The RCMP clears a path through the crowd to the sounds of the McIntosh Girls’ Pipe Band. The Vernon Girls’ Trumpet Band then escorts a car carrying the new Queen Silver Star to the ice palace. The young lady emerges, and is revealed to be Miss Rhondda Oliver (later Biggs). She is helped up the palace’s stairs by two six-year-old pages. They neatly arrange the long train of her blue and white robe as she takes her place on the throne. Her princesses, Sharon Magee and Joyce Moilliet, stand on either side.  

Mayor Frank Becker and Miss Vernon Barbara Wolsey then place the crown on Rhondda’s head. As she gives her acceptance speech, a bonfire of Christmas trees on the hill behind the ice palace blazes to life. Mayor Becker wishes her a happy reign, before reading congratulatory telegrams from Prime Minister John Diefenbaker and M.P. Stewart Fleming. Lieutenant Governor Pearkes then declares that the first ever Vernon Winter Carnival has officially begun.

More than 60 years later, the 2022 Vernon Winter Carnival is set to begin on February 4.

To the Max 80’s Party – Virtual Edition

As part of Carnival, the Museum will be hosting “To the Max 80’s Party – Virtual Edition.”

Tease your bangs, pull on your leg warmers, and grab the kiddos for an 80’s style sing-and-dance along with Kiki the Eco Elf. This family-friendly virtual event will feature music, dancing and prizes for best dressed, all from the comfort of your own home. Tickets are $20 and on-demand video access will be available for the entirety of the Winter Carnival! For more details, please click here

To explore more of Vernon’s history, check out our other blog posts

 

Gwyneth Evans, Research and Communications Coordinator