Spe­cial Peo­ple’s Christ­mas party

Fun for the sea­son

The Gananoque Reporter - - FRONT PAGE - LOR­RAINE PAYETTE

For more than fifty years, one of the best kept se­crets in Gananoque is also one of the best Christ­mas par­ties in town. This isn’t a party for just any­one, how­ever. This is a spe­cial party for spe­cial peo­ple and they know how to have a whale of a good time.

“The Spe­cial Peo­ple’s Christ­mas Party has been go­ing on for over 50 years,” said Tammy Ted­ford, or­ga­nizer of the event. “My fa­ther-in-law, Wilmer Ted­ford, and John Bray from Bray Rib­bon started this be­cause there was a need for it for both chil­dren and adults with spe­cial needs.”

When the event first started, en­tire fam­i­lies and spe­cial dig­ni­taries were in­vited, not just the spe­cial peo­ple. Ted­ford would bring her son, who has Down Syn­drome, and no­ticed that the spe­cial peo­ple were los­ing con­trol of their own party. The­fam­ily mem­bers would take over and en­joy them­selves, push­ing the oth­ers to the side, and the dig­ni­taries meant noth­ing to the spe­cial peo­ple.

“They were go­ing to shut the party down, but these folks look for­ward to it,” said Ted­ford. “They don’t get an op­por­tu­nity to have friends drive to their houses and say, ‘Jump in the car, we’re go­ing to the movies.’ They just don’t have that, so this is im­por­tant to them ev­ery sin­gle year.”

For Ted­ford, it was a call­ing. She knew in her heart she needed to make sure the party con­tin­ued ev­ery year, so she re­cruited her staff from Ab­so­lute­lyHair in Gananoque to help out and the rest is his­tory.

“I have been do­ing it for over ten years,” said Ted­ford. “It’s just for the spe­cial peo­ple. We don’t in­vite their sib­lings, we don’t in­vite the Chief of Po­lice. It isn’t that he doesn’t do a good job, it’s just that these peo­ple don’t care about dig­ni­taries.”

The event is en­tirely non­profit. Ev­ery year around Septem­ber, Ted­ford and her staff start com­ing up with cre­ative ideas to raise money and to make ev­ery­thing hap­pen.

“This year we had a raf­fle with over $1,000 worth of prizes,” said Ted­ford. “Most of them are do­nated by folks at the lo­cal busi­nesses, and we raised over a thou­sand dol­lars which was used to pur­chase the presents.

“The Gananoque Le­gion do­nates the hall to us, and we usu­ally try to do it the last Sun­day of November. There are some won­der­ful folks – Arnie Dixon and Dave Trues­dell – who are in charge of the food. They gather all of the food to­gether and have folks who do­nate money for it, so that’s all free for us. And the lovely ladies in the kitchen do­nate their time and cook ev­ery­thing.”

Most years they have some­body vol­un­teer to pro­vide live­mu­sic for the party. This year they brought in DJ Paul Todd of Di­a­mond Pro­duc­tions. He do­nated his time as a DJ and only charged for the photo booth he brought with him. The booth was such a big hit with the guests that Ted­ford has already hired him to come again next year.

“When the­mu­sic starts, we make sure ev­ery­body gets up and we pull them onto the dance floor, whether they’re in a wheel­chair or not, and we make them dance. Af­ter all, this is their party and we want to make sure they have a good time.”

Santa Claus al­ways goes out of his way to make an ap­pear­ance and hand out gifts to all the spe­cial peo­ple.

“There is no cost to at­tend – it’s free,” said Ted­ford. “Ev­ery­thing is free – full tur­key din­ner, free danc­ing – there is ab­so­lutely no cost to any of these peo­ple. The price of ad­mis­sion is a good at­ti­tude and a smile, and allmy folks have that.”

Ted­ford is very grate­ful to all of the spon­sors, ser­vice clubs and donors who keep the party alive, and who have helped out over the years. There are quite a num­ber of spe­cial peo­ple in the Gananoque and TLTI area, and it gives them all great joy to at­tend this event. To be­come in­volved in the event, please con­tact Ted­ford at Ab­so­lutely Hair, 613382-1142. She will be happy to let you know what you can do to con­tinue mak­ing this event as spe­cial as the peo­ple who at­tend it.

LOR­RAINE PAYETTE/ FOR POST­MEDIA NET­WORK

Tammy Ted­ford, or­ga­nizer, joins guest TimWil­son and the Branch 92 Le­gion Ladies’ Elf Squad as they pre­pare to serve a com­plete tur­key din­ner with all the fix­ings at the an­nual Spe­cial Peo­ple’s Christ­mas Party held in Gananoque on November 26. L-r, Ted­ford, Vir­ginia Ten­nant, Wil­son, Sandi Heaslip, Florence Bevins, Dorothy Jocko, Hal­lie Mut­tou, and Karen Rideout

Spencer Gaw, 7, was pre­sented with a spe­cial gift from Santa Claus at the an­nual Spe­cial Peo­ple’s Christ­mas Party held in Gananoque on November 26.

LOR­RAINE PAYETTE/ FOR POST­MEDIA NET­WORK

Santa him­self was a spe­cial and more than wel­come guest at the an­nual Spe­cial Peo­pleÕs Christ­mas Party held in Gananoque on November 26. Santa him­self was a spe­cial and more than wel­come guest at the an­nual Spe­cial Peo­ple’s Christ­mas Party held in Gananoque on November 26.

DJ Paul Todd played a mix of dance mu­sic and Christ­mas favourites at the an­nual Spe­cial Peo­ple’s Christ­mas Party held in Gananoque on November 26.

Vol­un­teer Cassie Lind­say taught some new dance steps to Agi, one of the guests at the an­nual Spe­cial Peo­ple’s Christ­mas Party held in Gananoque on November 26.

Tammy Ted­ford and her dance part­ner, Ste­wart Robert­son, at the an­nual Spe­cial Peo­ple’s Christ­mas Party held in Gananoque on November 26.

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