Christmas Miracle: Fort McMurray Strong
CALGARY, Dec. 12, 2016 /CNW/ - Today, WestJet released its fifth annual Christmas video. The airline stayed close to home this year, surprising people whose homes were affected by the devastating May 2016 forest fire in Fort McMurray.
Christmas Miracle: Fort McMurray Strong tells the story of how WestJet created a magical experience for those residents still dealing with the trauma of the mass evacuation and fire. To watch the video and see more behind the scenes content, click here.
"This year, we wanted Christmas to mean just a little bit more for the residents of Fort McMurray," said Richard Bartrem, WestJet Vice-President, Marketing Communications. "WestJet is deeply connected to the community, which is why we wanted to show them how much we care. We were at the airport the day the fire hit town, and several WestJetters also lost their homes. This year's Christmas miracle was an opportunity for WestJet to do what we do best – help connect a community, celebrate the season and bring a smile to peoples' faces."
WestJet hosted almost 1,000 local residents on November 26 at the Snowflake Soiree at Fort McMurray's MacDonald Island Park. The party was an exciting experience full of surprises for families, including a variety of crafting activities, a performance by Canadian music superstar Johnny Reid and the biggest thrill of all – hundreds of gift boxes containing personalized family portraits and WestJet flight vouchers that arrived by parachute from the sky above the party. It happened all under the watchful eye of WestJet's Blue Santa.
"I think it's important for myself, all the people here, for the rest of the world, to show Fort McMurray that we care," said Reid. "And that even in our darkest times, there are people out there that are going to show up and show them light, love and support."
Among the Snowflake Soiree guests were seven families who received special gifts from WestJetters who heard the families' stories and wanted to help by giving their own irreplaceable items. These included an heirloom watch from the Second World War, a special snowboard and a childhood book with an encouraging message. View the families' stories here.
"We know this will be a difficult Christmas for the community," said Bartrem. "It's important for us to show the people of Fort McMurray they are not forgotten."
WestJet's Christmas Miracle videos have been viewed more than 54 million times since the first one was released in 2012.
WestJet operates 16 weekly flights to Fort McMurray from Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto. For nearly 10 years WestJet has supported the Fort McMurray Boys and Girls Club, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters, through the WestJet Cares for Kids Charities. As one of many organizations, WestJet was proud to play a role in the fire response and aftermath in Fort McMurray, helping with evacuations and supporting relief efforts. Hosting the Snowflake Soiree was another opportunity for the airline to give back.
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