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St. Ignatius starts holiday right

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ST. IGNATIUS — What do face-painting, cake-walking, Santa Claus, a shuffleboard, basketball, a bean bag toss and toys for every good girl and boy in Mission have in common? 

They were all present at the annual St. Ignatius Chamber of Commerce’s Christmas Carnival last Saturday. An all-day event, the merry sounds of cheer, laughter and joy could be heard throughout the community center as St. Ignatius residents young and old enjoyed the holiday spirit. 

Sisters Sydney and Natalie Billette sat on Santa’s lap and asked for Christmas presents while their mom, Tami, stood back and smiled. 

“We come every year,” she said. “It’s a good thing for the kids to come to.”

According to event organizer Janis Heffern, it wasn’t always an event geared toward kids. As recently as five years ago, local businesses sold drawing tickets to adults. Problems with late bill payments forced the hand of the chamber, and in 2007, they repurposed the event for children. 

“We decided it was about the kids, so the chamber decided to do a carnival,” Heffern said. 

As it’s difficult to get funding for carnival booths, the chamber decided to ask for donations from local businesses to purchase small door prizes. The goal was to make sure each child got a gift, and they all did. 

“I was a little afraid this year because it was such a great turnout, but they all got a toy,” Heffern laughed. 

In all, the chamber raised $2,150 for toys in addition to a large donation of electronics from Pierce Construction.

“It was fun going to Walmart and buying all of this stuff,” Chris Heffern said. “It’s always a lot of fun checking out with six shopping carts full of toys.”

Even so, one little boy was late to the table and very nearly missed his opportunity at a gift. Janice said he walked up with his father expecting a toy, but there were none to be had. 

Troy Mitchell, a junior high student in St. Ignatius, offered his toy to the little boy. 

“It was just amazing,” Heffern said. “It’s amazing that there’s still good kids out there that will do that kind of stuff. If kids would just learn from that, it would be great. The world would be better.”

Mitchell, whether by Christmas magic or Karma, was later selected in the drawing for one of the big-ticket items — an HP tablet computer. 

Shortly after, the tree-lighting ceremony, parade of lights and flatbed trucks filled with carolers paraded down the streets to welcome the season. 

Janice said that beyond Mitchell’s selfless act of kindness, her favorite part of the event was the turnout and support from the community. 

“That they come out and take advantage of what we do — we put forth all that extra effort for our surrounding communities. That’s what keeps us going,” she explained.






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