Nicole Mitchell, the recreation programmer with the Town of Hay River, has again this year organized activities for young people over the Christmas season, and has added fitness programming for adults.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

While things naturally slow down everywhere over the holiday season, there will still be plenty of things to do at the Hay River Community Centre.

For the second year, there will be Youth Holiday Programming.

And new this year will be Holiday Fitness for adults.

Nicole Mitchell, the recreation programmer with the Town of Hay River, has organized the activities and will be delivering many of them.

In fact, she said she doesn’t mind working when many other people take the holiday season to get away from work for a while.

“I enjoy doing fun activities and these are some things that we don’t always get,” she said, pointing to cookie decorating on Dec. 24 as an example.

“We’re not doing cookie decorating programs regularly, so it’s kind of special. It’s fun,” she said. “And I do have a teaching background, so I do enjoy working with kids and I don’t get to do it as much as I used to. But doing these programs really allows me to teach again.”

Stephane Millette, the town’s recreation director, explained that Christmas activities are in keeping with the goal of the department of recreation and community services.

“A big goal is to provide services to the community when people are available and when there’s a need,” he said. “So over the holidays oftentimes there’s people that are looking for something to do or need something to do, really. And Nicole has been awesome at being available and putting out programming on days and times that people would be likely to be looking for something.”

The Youth Holiday Programming began with holiday crafts on Dec. 21 and games on Dec. 22. It will continue with ornament making on Dec. 23, cookie decorating on Dec. 24, holiday card making on Dec. 29, toy making on Dec. 30 and a New Year’s party on Dec. 31.

Holiday Fitness for adults began with a bootcamp on Dec. 21 and spin class on Dec. 22. It will continue with yoga on Dec. 23 and Dec. 28, a spin class on Dec. 29 and Jazzercize on Dec. 30.

Mitchell said the Youth Holiday Programming was popular last year.

Covid-19 somewhat limited what could be offered this year, she noted. “But it worked really well last year, and parents are still working during the days of the holidays and kids need something to do. So we have some activities planned.”

Last year, about eight kids on average participated in each youth activity.

“I’m expecting about the same, but already right now there are a few programs that are filling up pretty quickly,” said Mitchell.

She is happy to offer Holiday Fitness for the first time this year.

“For those two weeks, it seemed like a shame to just stop all the fitness altogether, especially since we’ve really started to build something pretty good here with our fitness programming,” she said. “So offering some free fitness programs seemed like a good idea.”

Millette noted that the holiday activities are extensions of regular programming.

And he pointed out there are a couple of other special seasonal activities, such as the Santa Claus Parade on Nov. 27 and the New Year’s Eve fireworks.

“Some of them are happening this year, but not as many due to Covid restrictions,” he said, noting Skate with Santa and Breakfast with Santa didn’t take place.

Skate with Santa would see about 200 people at the arena, he noted. “And we just can’t have that for maximum occupancy.”

Mitchell noted the holiday activities are not being offered because fewer people may be travelling out of town this year due to the pandemic.

“I feel like we would have offered this with or without Covid coming about because people may travel for the holidays, but there’s always going to be people who need something to do,” she said, noting that will include students returning to town.

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