Special People’s Christmas party
Fun for the season
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.
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.
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.