A little piece of Russia could be found in Red Deer on Saturday afternoon.
Hundreds came out to the 10th annual Russian Children’s New Year Party, which featured an interactive Russian play, at the G.H. Dawe Community Centre.
This year, an evil witch who lives in a house with chicken legs, tried to stop Grandfather Frost and Snow Maiden from handing out presents. The children helped wake up all four seasons by dancing. The seasons then invited the “firebird” to show how to get the presents.
Storytelling is a key part of the traditional Russian fairy tales and cartoons.
Anya Wolkowski has been the creative force behind the Russian New Year for 10 years.
Wolkowski and a few other parents wanted to hold the event just for their own children.
“We didn’t think it would become such an event for everyone,” she said. “It turned out to be so big for everyone who speaks Russian and remembers the traditions and customs.”
Twenty children came to the first event and it has grown every year.
It’s not just the children who enjoy coming to the yearly party, Wolkowski said.
“Some people who come don’t even have children. They come here to meet people and have that spirit. It’s rewarding knowing they have this piece of Russian tradition so far from home,” she said.
Tatiana Tilly, RDPL Dawe branch manager, said the new year is one of the biggest and most beloved holidays in Russia.
It’s not just people from Russia who speak Russian, as there are people from places like Ukraine and Afghanistan who come to the play every year.
“It’s truly an international event,” said Tilly. “This play warms the hearts of all Russian speaking people here in Red Deer.”
Tilly said the volunteers act and help put the play together can’t be thanked enough.
“We have some children who watched the play nine years ago at one year old and today they actually performed,” said Tilly.
There were between 100 and 150 children at this year’s event, Tilly added.
“It’s a really wonderful way to complete the year and prepare for the ultimate new year celebration on New Year’s Eve,” Tilly said.