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Rotary and Lansdowne Welcome Return of Annual Holiday Tradition

The smiles were bright as starlight at Lansdowne Children’s Centre on Sunday December 4, when Brantford’s children’s treatment centre celebrated the return of the annual Children’s Holiday Party presented in partnership with Rotary Club of Brantford.

Lansdowne Children's Centre polar express children's holiday party frame with children dressed as elves and reindeer with santa claus
Rotary Club of Brantford joined Lansdowne Children's Centre to host over 500 children and youth and their families for the POLAR EXPRESS children's holiday party.

The 2022 theme was Polar Express, and for the week leading up to the event the already busy halls of Lansdowne were even more a buzz with activity as volunteers crafted and kitted in preparation for the arrival of over 500 children and youth “passengers” and their families.

Rita-Marie Hadley, Executive Director of Lansdowne Children’s Centre, played the role of the conductor on Sunday morning, greeting each guest as they arrived.

“We’re glad to have all our visitors aboard, and so grateful for the Rotary Club of Brantford again helping us have a party to celebrate the season. Lansdowne is celebrating our families and all our diversity, and we’re so happy to be together in a very safe way today.”

Lansdowne’s holiday party partnership with Rotary Club of Brantford started in 1999, when Rotary first helped Lansdowne celebrate its 25th anniversary as a treatment centre, and first full year at the 39 Mount Pleasant Street building.

Sensitive Santa and Mrs. Claus brought the North Pole to Lansdowne Children's Centre for photo opportunities with over 500 children and their families. Lansdowne is Brantford and region's children's treatment centre, supporting children and youth with communication, developmental and physical special needs, and their families.

The annual party tradition was paused due to pandemic safety restrictions, and for the past two years has been held off-site as an exclusively drive-thru event.

“When closures forced a pivot away from in-person events, Lansdowne was fortunate to find help in developing a drive-thru winter wonderland experience with Glenhyrst Art Gallery, welcoming our client families to the Night at the Lights and providing an opportunity to share season's greetings and treats for our children and youth. We are thankful for the wonderful memories of smiling children dazzled by the brilliance of the decorations at Glenhyrst.

We’re excited to pivot again this year and welcome our families back into the centre for this festive event.”

Designed as a magical journey to the North Pole, this year’s walk/roll-thru experience started in the main lobby of the Lansdowne “train station,” where families were issued gift bags and tickets to the North Pole from Rotary volunteers. Traveling a path of train tracks through the clinic hallways, guests were then invited to a join sensitive Santa and Mrs. Claus for a holiday photo.

children in christmas outfits receive holiday gift bags at Lansdowne Children's Centre that include huggable plush animals from local PetSmart stores
PetSmart stores in Brantford and Ancaster contributed plush animals for each child's holiday gift bag.

Volunteers from Lansdowne and Rotary Club of Brantford coordinated with families to personalize the experience for guests, including reduced lighting and quiet zones. As Santa exclaimed,

“This day is all for the kids.”

Each child also received a gift from under the Christmas tree and holiday activities to take home and play with their family. At the end of the line each guest was served a deliciously icy treat provided by Paris Twisted Treats & What's the Scoop.

paris twisted treats what the scoop serves ice cream cone to child at Lansdowne Children's Centre
Paris Twisted Treats & What the Scoop? brought deliciously icy treats for all the passngers on Lansdowne's Polar Express experience.

The team at Lansdowne are incredibly grateful for the support of all volunteers, décor donations, the contributions from Rotary Club of Brantford, and the partnership of businesses in our community. Boston Pizza at Market Street provided lunch for the many helpers, and PetSmart on Henry Street and in Ancaster provided the cuddly plush toys given to each child in their gift bag.

The outpouring of support from Brantford and area businesses has been exceptional in 2022.

With sponsorship support of Lansdowne Foundation events including Charity Motorcycle Ride and Heroes Walk and Roll, and the contributions of third-party fundraisers including recent events by Beach Wave Volleyball, The Works Brantford and Pure Impact Athletics, our community continues to demonstrate compassion and conviction in the funding of services and supports for children and youth with special needs, and their families.

Recent toy drives organized by third-party teams have delivered hundreds of gifts to Lansdowne Children’s Centre, shared through services that have awareness and access to families struggling this holiday season.