BY VOICE STAFF
Though neither can remember exactly when they started, they agree that it has been at least 15 years, likely several years longer. Pelham’s principal elves, Paul Ryan and Gayle Baltjes-Bazinet—the pair behind the evergreen boughs and garland that greet you as you drive or walk our main streets this time of year—have made and hung their red and green one last time.
For the last number of years, they’ve looked at each other, and said, “Well, can we do it one more time?”
They always agreed it was a team project and as long as both were able, they would continue the volunteer effort. With both Ryan and Baltjes-Bazinet facing health challenges that make it tougher to handle the physical challenges of cutting the trees and putting the 500 evergreen boughs and bows together, they realize they must face the reality that their tenure has ended. They say they hope that others will step forward to continue the holiday spirit next year.
They note that thanks must be extended to all of Santa’s Pelham elves that have helped spread the holiday spirit. Baltjes-Bazinet says that both businesses and individuals give generously to help make it all happen.
“This year, particularly Designers Showcase Kitchens at the new Niagara Design Centre donated their staff and time to help, the Town of Pelham supplied the tie wraps and ribbon, and Sally in the recreation department is great for her help with the bow making.”
In the past, support has come from J&J Florists, the Pelham Business Association and its members, and the Rotary Club of Fonthill.
Ryan thanks those who have donated the evergreens over the year—be it a tree here and there, or the landowners that allow him to trim their evergreens on their properties to provide all materials that go into the swags he builds.
The pair adds that there have been many elves, this year and years past, who have helped them spread the cheer, including Lance Wiebe, Terry and John Deliman, Tina and Fred Sidler of Pedlar’s, Jamie Lepper and sons, Joe Marchant, Marvin Junkin, Ray Barlow, Janet Ingham, Sandra Harding, Jayne Berg, the team at Root Bissonnette & Walker CAs, Sue Teleki, Karen Davies, Jim Szeplaki, Warren Mason, Carol Cencich, David Swan, Domenic Faragalli, and Jack MacGregor.
They say with a laugh that special thanks should be given to the Town, Bell, and to Hydro—all of which have turned a blind eye to their wrapping of utility poles and light standards with their seasonal decorations, a quiet nod embracing their efforts.
When the two friends are asked why they’ve done it all these years, they look at each other and smile.
“To bring a smile to someone this time of year,” says Ryan. “It’s our way of saying Merry Christmas.”
“We’ve both been blessed with our good friends, memories, lots of laughter. We have a fondness for this Town, the people, the sense of community. It’s nice that we have been able to give something back.”
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