Pemberton’s Santa Claus wins Citizen of the Year 

He's been Santa, he's been Potato Jack, he's even been the school bus driver. And now he's Pemberton's favourite citizen.

Ed Thompson, a resident of Spud Valley for 18 years, has been voted Citizen of the Year for 2009. The Pemberton and District Chamber of Commerce announced the award on Jan. 28.

"It's quite an honour," Thompson said in an interview. "It's quite an honour even just to be nominated, and then to win it's a bigger one."

Thompson moved to Pemberton in 1992, seeking a change from his life as a truck driver in Laurencetown, Nova Scotia. He came west seeking new opportunities. Like many who venture far enough up the corridor, it took a single visit to Pemberton for him to fall in love with the place and decide to stay.

He found a job as a gravel truck driver with Sabre Transport in Whistler, driving dirt all around the area when construction was booming. He has since gone on to take a job as grocery manager at the Pemberton Valley Supermarket, working directly beneath the apartment he lives in.

Since moving to Pemberton he's come to occupy a key role in the community. Every year for the past 18 years he's been Spud Valley's Santa Claus, taking up after his grandfather who did it for his own community back in Nova Scotia. He does it because he loves seeing the smiling faces of kids at Christmas.

But that's not all he does. You know that anthropomorphic potato you see scampering around at community events? Potato Jack? Yeah - that's Ed. Mystery revealed. He'll be repeating his vital role this weekend as Pemberton welcomes the Olympic flame to town, but he can't promise he'll be very social; Potato Jack doesn't talk.

Beyond his seasonal jobs as Santa and Potato Jack, Thompson has also been involved in organizations such as the Pemberton Legion, the Lions Club and he's held a number of volunteer roles with the Village of Pemberton.

Other nominees for Citizen of the Year included Jennie Helmer of Helmer's Organic Farm, who has lately become better known as a spearhead of the Pemberton Watchdogs, who try to keep an eye on the local council and ensure they're living up to their promises and following village policy.

Paul Selina, a former president of the Pemberton and District Chamber of Commerce and more recently interim chair of Pemberton's Spirit of B.C. Committee, was also nominated. Marnie Simon of the Pemberton Valley Seniors Society and Jenna Markovic, chair of the Signal Hill Elementary School Parents' Advisory Council were also nominated.

The Business of the Year Award, meanwhile, was given to Small Potatoes Bazaar, which advertises itself as doing a "fresh take" on the traditional dollar store. It offers items such as greeting cards, party supplies, household supplies and toys and crafts.

Other nominees included the Pemberton Valley Supermarket, Scotiabank, the Pemberton Esso as well as the Meadows Golf Course and its Black Squirrel Restaurant.

Last year's Citizen of the Year was Arlene McClean and the Business of the Year was Shane Bourbonnais and Live Nation, organizer of the Pemberton Music Festival.




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