firefighter's ball 

By Amy Fendley All 350 tickets to The Other Fire Fighter’s Ball ’98 — a co-venture between the Whistler Fire Department and the Parent Advisory Committee — sold out, and the event went down last Saturday night at the Garibaldi Lift Company without a hitch. "We had floods of phone calls from people trying to get last minute tickets but there just weren’t any available," said Steve Doyle of the Whistler Fire Department. "A preliminary count estimated we raised about $14,000, which was within the amount we anticipated." There were two auctions at the ball, including a silent one that had more than 100 items up for bid, donated by local businesses. Alex Bunbury, a Whistler Fire Department retiree, said this year’s ball far surpassed those held in previous years. "Turnout wise it was a huge success," said Bunbury. "The guys had it under control. "We started the ball years ago and held it at the conference centre but we weren’t getting the response we wanted, nor the funds. We hope everybody enjoyed it this year and hopefully it will continue to be an ongoing event." The original Fire Fighter’s Balls used to be the only event of the year where Whistlerites dressed formally. The money raised at this year’s ball will be split evenly, with half going towards the fire fighters auto extrication competition and symposium and half to the Myrtle Philip Community School library fund. The Whistler Fire Department’s extrication team goes to competitions to gain experience and to attempt to qualify for regional and national competitions, where they get more experience. In the past, Whistler has placed first and second in the regionals. This year the Pemberton Fire Department won the regional qualifier and went to Yellowknife. If a team wins the Western Canada Extrication Competition, they qualify to compete internationally. Next year’s Western competition will be held in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan and the international competition will be held in Kentucky. In 2000 the international symposium is planned for Australia. Debbie Smythe, who is head of the Parent Advisory Committee, said they were comfortable with the results from both the ball and the Fall Affair, which was also held Sunday. The Fall Affair was hosted at Myrtle Philip Community School and offered carnival games, an auction and a bench-building contest. Whistler Secondary School is in need of benches for the school’s hallways, so a contest was offered with a prize reward of a helicopter flight for the best bench idea. John Benbow, from Benbow Construction in Whistler, won the contest, building a number of unique benches including ones made from old snowboards, skateboards, plumbing pipe, doors and hardwood flooring. "We are so pleased with the turnouts... it’s just terrific and encourages us to continue with the events," said Smythe. "The ball sold out and was larger than last year’s because of the new venue. This was our first year hosting the Fall Affair and we had an excellent turnout and great support from the community. PAC is planning to host the Fall Affair again next year."

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