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Swingin' Christmas dance to benefit local 'folks who need support'

Locals urged to dance the night away to aid church's lunch and breakfast programs; 'It seems as if there is more and more need for this kind of thing,' says official
Orillia Big Band director Randy Hoover and St. James Loonie Lunch program coordinator Maryan Vincent invite the community to Swingin' Christmas, dance happening Dec. 9 in the Maple Leaf Club Dance Hall.

The Orillia Big Band is tuning up to present Swingin' Christmas next month to raise important funds for the St. James’ Anglican Church food program.

The band is playing once again in the original Maple Leaf Club Dance Hall at St. James' on Dec. 9. at 7 p.m.

 Music Director Randy Hoover hopes to see community members out at the dance showing off their best steps as they dance the foxtrot, waltz, swing, and cha cha.

The Orillia Big Band, a popular local dance band, includes a saxophonist, trumpeter, multiple trombonists, and a "healthy" rhythm section.

"Our band makes no apologies," he said. "We play the original big band music from the 40s up to the current time."

While the music played to be at the dance dates back several generations, Hoover says the event attracts lots of younger people.

"They just love to dance," he said. "Many people have taken dance lessons and others are learning as they go."

Hoover says there will be semi-professional dancers on site for those who would like some tips on how to do some of the more challenging dances. He also encourages attendees to dress the part.

"If you want to dress in some sort of Christmas outfit, that would be perfect," he said. "If you want to wear a big flowing gown, that's great."

Tickets cost $30 and can be purchased by emailing Hoover at [email protected] or you can call him at 705-345-3353. Proceeds from the event will support the St. James’ food program.

"Every Wednesday at 11 a.m. anyone can come in (and have lunch) for a loonie," Hoover explained of the popular church program. "It seems as if there is more and more need for this kind of thing."  

Maryan Vincent, the coordinator of the Loonie Lunch Program at the Peter Street church, says 70 to 100 people access the program each week.

"It's a real community effort," she said. "Mariposa Market has given us their (leftovers) every Tuesday night for the last 10 years. Every Wednesday morning we pick up buns from the Orillia Bakery, and recently Starbucks has been donating coffee and coming to help every month which is really nice."

Prior to COVID, the people who attended the loonie lunch were mostly senior ladies who couldn't afford to go to a restaurant. Now, people of all ages are attending each week, she explained.

"We certainly see a population of folks who need support," Vincent said. "It's not just homeless people. We get regulars who live in assisted housing and want to make their grocery dollars go a little further."

There is a similar program offered at St. James' for breakfast on Sunday mornings at 9:30 a.m. that will also benefit from the upcoming dance.


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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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