Enjoy a safe holiday celebration with a focus on family

Yule Ave is back. Nothing as small as a pandemic can tame the irrepressible force of nature otherwise known as Frank Zotter, the dreamer behind this seasonal event. 

Cancel Yule Ave? Perish the thought. “No way is that happening.” Zotter adds, “It will be absolutely unique this year. Interestingly enough when I realized I needed to alter the event, I thought back to how we have been all about our bubbles like the ornament or gingerbread creation. Even when it came to the concert, people stuck to their family bubbles. This dynamic is easily modified and transferable to these times.” 

Virginia L Lehay, Santa with Eamonn, and Magdalen at Yule Ave. | Rusti Lehay

Zotter’s original vision for the event is even enhanced by Alberta Health regulations. “Back in the day it was super exciting to watch all these families mix and match in the same room creating a person-to-person community.” This year, it will be even more family centric. Zotter says, “That was Yule Ave’s intention from the beginning: to create family memories instead of buying things.”

Zotter finds it deeply rewarding to see families take time to just be present when most people are stressed buying presents. “With the event happening a few days before Christmas, families can take a breath from the hectic nature of it all to simply make things and laugh together.”

Frank Zotter (middle), with happy Yule Ave participants Magdalen (left) and Virginia (right).| Rusti Lehay

The turkey dinner on Dec. 19 will be takeout only. Virginia Potkins, the dinner coordinator, will ensure stringent COVID-19 health guidelines are followed. Volunteers will dole out and individually package dinners at the hall. Takeout containers will be picked up or delivered to people’s homes, keeping everyone safe. Alberta Avenue Community League is taking the dinner requests. Priority will be given to people in need and to those living in and around the Alberta Avenue neighborhood.

For the concert, organizers will live stream a trio of women singing holiday classics, carollers, a Christmas clown, and flutists. Dave von Bieker will sing more obscure Christmas music. “The live-streamed performances will focus the event.” Zotter says, “COVID-friendly guidelines take us back to the foundation of the event with families just being with one another.”

Although there won’t be a Giving Tree this year, there will still be plenty to do. Frank Zotter (left) and former NDP MLA Brian Mason (right) at a previous Yule Ave. | Rusti Lehay

Lorraine Shulba will instruct participants on their ornament creation on Dec.19-20 at The Nina while Kirsten Scott will be running gingerbread house making at Alberta Avenue Community Centre. “Families may take gingerbread house kits home and small groups, contingent upon the current laws, may build them onsite with volunteers managing space and distribution in the hall,” says Zotter.

Zotter adds, “In a strange way, by virtue of this stupid pandemic, [the event is] going back to its roots. One of the fundamental features way back 10 years ago was creating a snow village, specifically Santa’s spectacular snow village.” Robert Woodbury will create statues and carvings that families can walk by and enjoy. Zotter says, with the online concert, everyone can experience Yule Ave “sitting by the fire and/or screens conjuring feelings of comfort and safety in their own homes. That is our focus this year: to make everyone feel comfortable and safe near their own hearth tuning into the programs. We can still have the event with these values in mind.”


Dec. 19-20

Alberta Avenue Community Centre & The Nina

Plus online concert

Visit yuleave.com for a full schedule

Featured Image: Virginia L Lehay and Magdalen make ornaments at a previous year’s Yule Ave. | Rusti Lehay