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WinterStart lights up and gets Extreme

WHAT: Telus Mobility WinterStart Festival WHERE: Whistler Village WHEN: Dec.

WHAT: Telus Mobility WinterStart Festival

WHERE: Whistler Village

WHEN: Dec. 8, 9, 10

Last weekend’s lighting of the Christmas Tree in Whistler’s Village Square was preceded by a parade of pedestrians each holding a glow stick to create an animated winter scene. Maureen Douglas, chief organizer of the two-weekend Telus Mobility WinterStart Festival, says folks will have a repeat opportunity Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. to join others who wish to light up the village.

"I don’t know what it is about hanging on to glow sticks, but everybody wanted one and it gave a real sense of being together: kids and adults," Douglas said Wednesday. "So everybody will get a chance to do that again this Friday. It was a big hit. And the Whistler Singers will be carolling around the tree, which was lit last week and will stay lit until Dec. 27.

"The thing about the tree is you barely notice it, yet it’s obvious because it’s the only thing in the village that has different coloured lights," Douglas added.

The 35-foot tree is very close to the stage where most of the weekend’s activities will be focussed, including the awards for the various events during the Nokia Snowboard FIS World Cup competition taking place Dec. 8-11 on Blackcomb Mountain.

These high-profile competitions usually have an accompanying social event to lessen the stress of world-class competition, and on Saturday evening at Merlin’s Bar & Grill, Extremely Canadian Freeskiing Clinics will host what is quickly becoming the most talked about industry party in the ski world.

Last year’s Pimp & Ho Party was voted Party of The Year by Skiing Magazine in the magazine’s Best of Skiing September 2000 issue. The idea is to dress as a pimp or a ho, and be as bold as possible in order to win a variety of prizes. Better yet, the crowd decides who wins. Added to the evening is the psychedelic funk of the Arthur Funkarelli band. Although the party is free, limited tickets are available and must be picked up in person at Extremely Canadian’s office in the Timberline Lodge in Whistler Village. Donation of a non-perishable food item is also required.

WinterStart is also a community-oriented festival that lets Whistler dignitaries recognize people in the community who have made a significant effort to make life in Whistler better.

"This was a great year because we were able to recognize young people as well," Douglas said. "The first person is Teresa Bate, a Grade 11 student at Whistler high school, for her dedication to the arts through theatre and the Whistler Community Arts Council," Douglas said. "She’s also on the student council and volunteered for children’s programs and just has a very positive attitude. The next person is Bob Calladine. He’s very involved in kids’ sports programs like hockey and soccer, and has been for quite some time.

"Ted Pryce-Jones was also named this year for his work with Whistler Search and Rescue," Douglas added. "He’s also involved in kids’ programs. But he’s probably the hardest person in Whistler to get hold of because his dedication to SAR really goes way beyond the call of duty.

"Chris Winter was named as a winner of a Whistler Classic Award for his work with Zero Ceiling, which helps city youth at risk. It’s been running for two or three years." Some youths and young adults from this program have gone on to become qualified snowboard instructors for Whistler-Blackcomb.

"The other thing that’s going to be neat is the ice-sculpting competition Saturday," Douglas added. "There should be at least seven and maybe 10 competitors in the village all day and one of the competitors is the winner of the Ottawa Nationals. They’ll be ready by 5 p.m. to display their sculptures. And the judging takes place between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. with the people’s choice award handed out just after that."