Exploring the meaning of Christmas with children's performer Ira Pettle 

The Whistler Holiday Experience runs Dec. 22 to Jan 4 at the Whistler Conference Centre

click to enlarge PHOTO BY MIKE CRANE/COURTESY OF THE RESORT MUNICIPALITY OF WHISTLER - AWESOME EXPERIENCE Kids can expect "complete and utter awesomeness" from the Whistler Holiday Experience this year, says children's performer Ira Pettle.
  • Photo by Mike Crane/courtesy of the Resort Municipality of Whistler
  • AWESOME EXPERIENCE Kids can expect "complete and utter awesomeness" from the Whistler Holiday Experience this year, says children's performer Ira Pettle.

A short and satisfying Q&A with one of Whistler's favourite children's performers, Ira Pettle.

Pique: Ira, what is the meaning of Christmas?

Ira Pettle: "You know you're talking to a Jew, right?"

Pique: (hearty laughter)

IP: "I know.... and I'm playing Santa Claus on Christmas Eve at a private party. True story. Whistler's token Jew will be playing Santa Claus on Christmas Eve."

Pique: (sustained hearty laughter)

IP: "But just to speak to the magic of Christmas, I mean, for me, whether it's Christmas or Hanukkah, whatever you're celebrating this time of year, it's about family, it's about tradition, it's about community. It's just about coming together and being with the people you care about. So it's not a Christmas thing per se for me, but more a community opportunity."

You can catch Pettle working his magic this holiday season at the Whistler Conference Centre as part of the Whistler Holiday Experience (WHE).

The Experience runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Dec. 22 to Jan. 4 (though not on Dec. 25 and 31) free of charge. The indoor, family-fun zone includes a mini putt course, table games, bouncy castles, crafts and video games. Photos with Santa are available by donation on Dec. 23 and 24 from 1 to 4 p.m.

Pettle himself will be hosting organized games and interactive entertainment with the kids every day from 1 to 5 p.m.

What can kids and parents expect?

"Complete and utter awesomeness," Pettle says. "It's pretty amazing. If you're a kid, it's totally cool, and the parents get a nice little break too, which I think is why they love it so much. They get to just sit on the comfy couches and let the kids go play."

The WHE has been going on for at least a decade, said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, and welcomes thousands of families each year.

"It is really quite amazing," she said. "So many people come up here for Christmas who actually don't ski, so there's all these other opportunities to get out with your family and have fun, or take a day off skiing and do something a little bit different. It just rounds out the holiday experience for everybody."

There will also be a small lunch menu in the grand foyer if you want to make a day of it, and a daily schedule of small pop-up performances.

"Just to speak to the excitement of it, it's pretty amazing," Pettle says. "I'm really looking forward to it."

The WHE may be the centerpiece, but there's plenty of other animation planned for the resort over the holiday season as well.

Head to Whistler Olympic Plaza for free Family Après every Monday and Wednesday (except for Dec. 25) from 3 to 6 p.m.

The Plaza's popular outdoor rink and snowzone are also up and running, along with warm drinks and Christmas music.

New Year's Eve programming for families is scheduled for the Maury Young Arts Centre and Whistler Conference Centre from 6 to 11 p.m. Find tickets at www.whistler.ca/christmas.

For more on Whistler's holiday events, head to www.whistler.ca/culture-recreation/events-and-festivals/whistler-presents.

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