Operation Red Nose gears up for 15th season
It’s the 15th season for Operation Red Nose at the University of Lethbridge and the demand for their services continues to be on the upswing. That’s good news for Pronghorn Athletics, who both administers and then reaps the benefits of the annual designated driving program.
“All of the money we get in from tips goes directly back to our teams and there are a number of different ways they use that money,” says Sandy Slavin, executive director, Sport and Recreation Services. “Whether it’s going on a training camp, supplementing their meal allowances, used for an exhibition tournament or getting extra gear for their players, it’s all very beneficial.”
Created in 1984 in Quebec City, the program offers holiday revelers the opportunity to be driven home in their own vehicles, free of charge. It has become a holiday tradition, both for the volunteers who work the program and the many people in southern Alberta who use its services.
With that recognition level comes logistical challenges, such as finding enough volunteers for especially heavy traffic weekends. One of those weekends is the final Friday before Christmas when many Pronghorn athletes have left for Christmas break.
“That was always a date we struggled with to get volunteers,” says Slavin. “A couple years ago the suggestion was brought forward to come to the University and try and fill a night with as many volunteers from faculty, staff and students. We encouraged as many of the different staff units on campus to come and help us out and had such a good response, we’ve stayed with it.”
Now dubbed ‘University Night’, it has turned into a popular community-building activity.
“It certainly does build a community atmosphere and interestingly enough, that’s the same feedback we get on all the regular nights when Pronghorn athletes are working,” says Slavin. “Red Nose is one of the ways in which we develop that Pronghorn Athletics community.”
The program has also seen a significant increase in bookings of Christmas parties, a sure indication that southern Albertans are buying into the program.
“It helps us because we know we have some secured business,” Slavin says, admitting they may have to actually limit party bookings to 10 on any given night. “By people pre-registering their parties, it gives us a better idea of how many volunteers we need for a certain night.”
Operation Red Nose begins Friday, Nov. 27 and Saturday, Nov. 28, then runs each Thursday through Saturday night to Dec. 19. It then runs again on New Year’s Eve. Volunteers wishing to take part in the program can e-mail Sandy Slavin at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Pronghorn Athletics at 403-329-2681.