Over a month and a half, Fantasy Farms have transformed their Halloween adventure destination into a winter wonderland.
Each year, Petey’s Country Christmas provides opportunities for some extravagantly festive fun.
But for the past four years, one day has been particularly special for families who could use a little extra Christmas spirit.
On Dec. 13, 25 deserving families will experience Fantasy Farm’s fifth annual A Christmas To Remember event.
With the help of their corporate sponsor Rona Chilliwack, Gary and Lisa Moran came up with the idea to shower families in need with Christmas joy. Over 100 parents and kids are served a hot and delicious Christmas feast, they get to take part in all the fun that the farm has to offer, and Santa brings them everything on their wish list and more.
In addition to their individual and business sponsors, Gary and Lisa raise money to support this event from their two annual fundraisers, the Garlic Festival and Halloween Dance.
Through their partnership with Chilliwack Community Services (CCS), they select 25 new families in need each year.
“We call it ‘A Christmas To Remember’ because we want to make it surreal for the families,” Gary explained.
In advance of the event, they request a wish list from the kids and parents as to what would make their Christmas special. Usually, the parents ask for everyday items like baking or laundry supplies, bedding, or other essentials. Kids and teens might ask for certain toys or warm, new clothes.
“We make sure that we get them exactly what they want,” Gary said.
But they’ll go above and beyond.
Some of the biggest gifts they’ve provided include set of winter tires and an Xbox 360 for a young brother and sister.
Kids and parents will open a few gifts when they meet Santa on Sunday, the rest will be delivered by CCS closer to Christmas day.
Gary recalled a thank-you letter that they received from a mother who attended in 2011. “This was the first time in her life that she had a sit-down meal where somebody served her,” he said.
“She’ll always remember that,” Gary continued. “And that’s the point of the event.”
Gary remembers one Christmas when he was six years old, five years after his father died. His mother was raising four children on a single income, when two men showed up at the door with bags of food, topped with candy canes.
“That was a Christmas that I’ll never forget,” he said.
“Now that we have the chance to do that for others, why not?”
The piles of gifts under the beautiful, enormous Christmas trees in the greenhouse continues to grow in preparation for the event.
If you would like to help make this Christmas special for a family in need, toy donations can be delivered to CCS or to Fantasy Farms. Financial donations can also be directed to CCS or into the ‘A Christmas To Remember’ account at Vancity Credit Union.
The Christmas To Remember families will be some of the first to enjoy the exciting new additions to Petey’s Country Christmas. Fort Runamuk and the farm train have been illuminated by thousands of Christmas lights.
Fantasy Farms is also introducing their new exhibit, The Frightmare Before Christmas. This project – two years in the making – is a theatrical, 3D walkthrough tribute to The Nightmare Before Christmas film. People of all ages will go on the spooky quest to save Christmas from the Boogie Man.
Petey’s Country Christmas opens Dec. 11. Visit www.peteyscountrychristmas.ca for the full calendar, hours and attractions.