Sunday’s dreary and cold afternoon was made merry and bright by the Lord Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council’s Christmas Party.
The party kicked off in the auditorium of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Community Centre, with plenty of hot chocolate and marshmallows on hand to please the younger crowd. And coffee to warm up their parents. Children and teens were invited to decorate gingerbread and sugar cookies and eat their creations. Christmas-themed craft projects were set up and staffed by youth council volunteers. Music and a flashy strobe light completed the party atmosphere.
“New fun to be had this year,” enthused Bethany Poltl, chair of the LMYAC. She explained the youth council had changed the format of the celebration this year, the third annual Christmas event. In previous years, the celebration has centred on providing the audience with performances by local youth, but this year, they decided to engage younger members of the community by setting up the creative Christmas craft projects.
Poltl introduced herself, her co-chair Janvi Ganatra and youth council member Genny Moncion, who helped introduce the acts for the performance, including the Niagara Bethany Handbell Choir, always a joy to hear, and earning enthusiastic applause as the last chimes of the March of the Nutcracker fade.
Lord Mayor Betty Disero addressed the audience after their performance, saying she makes a point of attending concerts of the youth and adult handbell choirs when they perform. She also thanked the youth advisory council for representing the young people in town and bringing their voice to council.
Although Niagara-on-the-Lake has been called a town for retirees, this could not be further from the truth, she said. With the number of young people and young families moving to NOTL, the work the youth advisory council will do over the next three years “will be so important to the future of our town.”
She concluded by thanking the volunteers of the Lord Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council, Lauren Kruitbosch, Community Engagement Coordinator, who works directly with the LMYAC and Town Councillor Claire Cameron, who according to the Lord Mayor “has played an integral role in the leadership” in the LMYAC.
Following that the performances began, including pianist Clara De Munnich, and the sibling duo of Seungbeom Kim and Dahyeon Kim. Seungbeom performed on the cello, while his sister accompanied him on the violin.
Poltl entertained the audience with her lovely soprano, followed by a dramatic reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, read by Moncion.
Pöltl concluded the afternoon’s festivities by thanking the audience, the volunteers, the Lord Mayor and the Town Council for their continued support of the Lord Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council.
The Lord Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council was established in the fall of 2017 after Poltl approached the NOTL Town Council in an effort to increase the voice of youth in the community. Presently the LMYAC consists of nine members ranging in age from 13 to 18 whose mandate is to give a voice to the youth of NOTL; encourage youth involvement within the community; offer opportunities for youth to be a part of local activities and events; provide leadership opportunities and experience for youth; and, allow youth to help build the NOTL community.