For WestJet’s fifth annual Christmas video, the airline stayed close to home this year, surprising people whose homes were affected by the devastating May 2016 forest fire in Fort McMurray.
‘Christmas Miracle: Fort McMurray Strong’ tells the story of how WestJet created a magical experience for those residents still dealing with the trauma of the mass evacuation and fire. To watch the video and see more behind the scenes content, click here.
“This year, we wanted Christmas to mean just a little bit more for the residents of Fort McMurray,” said Richard Bartrem, Vice-President, Marketing Communications. “WestJet is deeply connected to the community, which is why we wanted to show them how much we care. We were at the airport the day the fire hit town, and several WestJetters also lost their homes. This year’s Christmas miracle was an opportunity for WestJet to do what we do best – help connect a community, celebrate the season and bring a smile to peoples’ faces.”
WestJet hosted almost 1,000 local residents on 26th November at the Snowflake Soiree at Fort McMurray’s MacDonald Island Park. The party was an exciting experience full of surprises for families, including a variety of crafting activities, a performance by Canadian music superstar Johnny Reid and the biggest thrill of all – hundreds of gift boxes containing personalised family portraits and WestJet flight vouchers that arrived by parachute from the sky above the party. It happened all under the watchful eye of WestJet’s Blue Santa.
“I think it’s important for myself, all the people here, for the rest of the world, to show Fort McMurray that we care,” said Reid, ”and that even in our darkest times, there are people out there that are going to show up and show them light, love and support.”
Among the Snowflake Soiree guests were seven families who received special gifts from WestJetters who heard the families’ stories and wanted to help by giving their own irreplaceable items. These included an heirloom watch from the Second World War, a special snowboard and a childhood book with an encouraging message. View the families’ stories here.
“We know this will be a difficult Christmas for the community,” added Richard Bartrem. “It’s important for us to show the people of Fort McMurray they are not forgotten.”
WestJet’s Christmas Miracle videos have been viewed more than 54 million times since the first one was released in 2012.