Staff Sergeant Duane Hunter was selected for going above and beyond the call of duty in his community, specifically to revitalize the city’s Candy Cane Lane event, over the last eight years.
As part of the award, the Kiwanis Club of Edmonton - Oil Capital donates $1,000 to a charity of the winner’s choice. This year, the Crestwood Community League will receive this donation.
Kiwanis has now recognized 43 EPS officers for their outstanding volunteer contributions in the community since 1976. For more information about the Kiwanis Club of Edmonton - Oil Capital, please visit www.oilcapitalkiwanis.ca.
Duane Hunter’s commitment to the Crestwood Community began in 2010 while he was setting up his Christmas lights. He heard the abrupt sound of a ladder folding up. He ran across the street to the aid of his elderly neighbour who said, “Don’t tell my wife. I’m not supposed to be doing the lights.” Luckily Duane’s neighbour was not seriously injured; but this alarming incident lit a spark in Duane. With many of his neighbours being seniors, he knew he had to get involved to carry on the Candy Cane Lane tradition.
Duane attended Crestwood Community League meetings with his concerns and suggestions – create a committee and help the residents who can’t participate, whether it’s due to finances or health. He was able to get funding from the community league to purchase lights for neighbours who didn’t have any. In order to safely assist the installation of these lights in his community, Duane reached out to friends who worked for Shaw Cable. Shaw supplied bucket trucks and manpower to install Christmas lights down the Lane and install lights on the homes of residents who couldn’t do it themselves. This was the beginning of “Shaw Day.
After the 2011 season, the community could no longer financially support the initiative. Duane found sustainable funding for the city-loved event after he evolved the unique experience of taking a sleigh ride down the Lane. This one activity has provided enough funding to add more activities for citizens, including free warming tents, hot chocolate, fire pits, mascots, a fully decorated park, and much more.
With Duane’s leadership, it is grander than a street of pretty lights. Candy Cane Lane is a shining example of how a community of dedicated neighbours can bring joy and support to an entire city, especially to those who need it the most. The event even provides volunteer hours for local students, and most notably, it is the second largest contributor to the Food Bank.
2018 was Candy Cane Lane’s 50th anniversary; the City of Edmonton recognized the tradition and proclaimed Candy Cane Lane as a civic event. This milestone is no doubt thanks to Duane’s hard work, problem solving, and enthusiasm. Now, an event committee and 80 dedicated community volunteers come together every year to light up their city with holiday cheer.