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Carols By Candlelight Cancelled Due To Covid-19

YMCA Christchurch has made the difficult decision to cancel Carols By Candlelight this Christmas Eve – an annual event the YMCA has delivered for the Canterbury Community since 1948.

Under current Level 2 restrictions the size of the event prevents it from going ahead. Should the restriction status change to the proposed traffic light system before then, there would be a requirement to restrict access to only those who are vaccinated.

While the YMCA is strongly in favour of vaccinations, they are not in favour of fundamentally changing the purpose of the event – which a vaccination requirement would do.

“This event is a free community event which regular attendees describe as one which epitomizes the spirit of Christmas.” Josie Ogden Schroeder, CEO of the YMCA, said.

“As an organization that has delivered this event free to the community for over seventy years, one which is run entirely by volunteers and with the goodwill of many generous people, we do not believe that fences and security guards, the possible need to reject some families – children in tow – from attending, is the kind of atmosphere that represents our values or community inclusiveness.”

“Carols by Candlelight is all about inclusiveness, kindness, charity and understanding.”

There is also a significant extra cost involved in meeting the public health requirements to keep people safe, and the YMCA is not able to fund these costs. The risk to a sudden change in restriction levels due to further outbreaks is also a financial one for the charitable organization.

Carols by Candlelight was first started as a fundraiser to support the programmes the YMCA delivers to help and support young people. The event raises around $6,000 per annum for the YMCA through the sale of Carols books and candles. This is only the third time the event has been cancelled, the other two times due to heavy rain. An estimated 15,000 people attend each year.

“For many, attending Carols has become a family tradition. It is an event which brings people together for no greater purpose other than being with our friends and family, on Christmas Eve. It’s one of life’s small pleasures to slow down after the December rush, to take a moment to be present with people we care greatly about. This of all years is perhaps a time when we need this most, when the wellbeing of many has been rocked by constant uncertainty.

We know that this will be hugely disappointing for those families and we anticipate putting on the biggest and best Carols ever in 2022.”

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