As pandemic played party pooper, Churchill residents improvised

The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on Manitoba 150 and holiday event planning in Churchill this spring, summer and fall but the organizers have displayed the resilience that is required to survive in the Hudson Bay port town and figured out ways to proceed safely.

Back in March when the novel coronavirus was first detected in Manitoba, people in Churchill had been in the midst of planning the Aurora Winterfest 2020 Northern Lights Talent Quest, complete with workshops to develop musical acts and design and build props. Twenty performances were planned but the event, originally planned to be held indoors, was postponed until late July when it was revived as an outdoor drive-in  concert on the shore of Hudson Bay, which was livestreamed for everyone’s enjoyment.

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Just over a month later a free barbecue with live music and jamming sessions was held at Camp Nanuq, where participants also had the opportunity to try paddle boarding on the lake or rock painting and other arts and crafts. Singers and musicians kept the music going with an all-day open mic on the outdoor stage.

As cold and snow descended on Churchill in the fall, plans were made for an indoor Halloween haunted house at the fire hall until new COVID-19 public health restrictions threw a monkey wrench into plans once again. Undeterred, volunteers filled 200 bags with donated candy, decorated the Lazy Bear Lodge van in spooky style and handed out candy with tongs while wearing bloody hazmat suits and masks. Churchill Entertainment made the atmosphere resemble a street party by playing dance music over a loudspeaker and the event was so well-received it is likely to return in future years.

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