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It’s an exciting time for event venues and caterers in Lethbridge, as corporate and family Christmas parties fill up their books.
In 2020 and 2021, varying levels of COVID-19 health measures, such as gathering limits, proof of vaccination, and mandatory masking put a damper on how people were able to celebrate.
According to Mikayla Carson, media coordinator and the Water Tower Grill, last year was still busy at their restaurant.
“This year I think we’re expecting an even bigger turnout,” Carson said, citing the nonexistent restrictions this time around. “We’re pretty busy already — we’ve got pretty busy weekends coming up leading up until Christmas.”
The venue has three separate spaces available for hosting gatherings, including a 35-seat private dining room well-suited for company parties.
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Staff are feeling the itch as they welcome more customers through their doors.
“It’s very important to us. Christmas is actually the busiest season that we have,” she said. “(It’s) really like our crunch time.”
“We’re totally booked for December,” said part owner of Country Kitchen Catering Todd Hendricks, whose family-run business is happy to be getting back to normal.
Vicky Vanden Hoek, owner of Honkers Pub and Nest Events, referred to the holiday booking season as their “harvest,” equating it to farming.
“We fill up the rooms, everybody works hard, you’re busy every weekend,” Vanden Hoek said. “It’s really nice to be able to have the rooms getting full again.”
And while their venue is seeing an increase in bookings, Vanden Hoek said the volume isn’t quite back to what it was in 2019.
She suspects that could be due to caution over health.
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“Still people coming in with some masks and that’s absolutely fine — however people want to be: so if they want to be all together at one table, perhaps they don’t,” she said, adding one client is postponing his party this year due to finances.
“I know one guy didn’t have a very good year in the agriculture business so he’s not going to have it this year but he put it on hold for next year so it’s whatever they can do.”
Dr. Trushar Patel, a Canada research chair and associate professor at the University of Lethbridge, recommends undertaking a variety of practices before attending these events.
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“Part of me, as a human who missed the last two years of Christmas celebrations and family celebrations, (we missed) that and want it back,” he said. “Keeping an eye on what is happening in the community, though, we should be a bit more cautious.”
He suggested making sure your flu shots and COVID boosters are up to date, and self-monitoring for symptoms of respiratory viruses.
“If you’re feeling slightly unwell, we should not join those events,” he said, adding rapid testing for the coronavirus and masking are also useful tools.
For those who are celebrating and choose to drink alcohol, the relaunch of Operation Red Nose after a two-year hiatus is hoping to keep impaired drivers off the streets.
The fundraising campaign helps get people and their vehicles home safely while supporting the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns Athletics.
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Staff Christmas parties back with a bang in Lethbridge – Lethbridge | Globalnews.ca
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