Last year, our newspaper was asked to participate in the Salvation Army’s Kettle Kickoff. We were all ready. But I was especially ready. Dressed as Santa, the generosity I saw that day truly moved me.
I know it’s not a competition. It’s something done for all of the right reasons to help others who need a little extra this holiday season, and really, during all of our seasons. It’s one of those things that needs, and deserves, to be kept pure.
Still, I’ve been thinking about this for a year since the last time I rang that bell. I knew I could do better.
There had to be a way to keep the purity while making sure people knew that if they were going to give, they really ought to walk over to that gorgeous building at the corner of Monroe and Riverside. Especially when I was the one ringing the bell.
The sound of that Salvation Army bell – it’s as much Christmas as hearing Bing Crosby croon about craving a white Christmas. But after my first Christmas here in 2016, I’ve never truly believed Bing would have wanted snow in Spokane in late December if he’d had to drive up Monroe Street with about 4 or 5 inches of the white stuff on the ground.
It was during this thought that it hit me.
Maybe there was a way to channel the happiness of a holiday snowfall with that incredible feeling you get when you give. You know, that warm feeling you felt when you were just a kid, seeing all of the Christmas decorations, hearing those wonderful sounds and smelling ginger cookies and hot cocoa. That was the kind of magic that was needed.
That’s Olaf – the happy snowman from the 2013 Disney movie “Frozen.”
Everybody adores that lopsided, lovable sidekick with a penchant for ironic songs about summer. Olaf loves warm hugs and is filled with the innocence of a child who can’t wait to write a letter that is headed to the North Pole.
Heck, I’m getting happy just typing his name. Olaf.
I just smiled again. Olaf. I can’t believe it. It works every single time.
What if, when it was my turn to ring the bell this year, I did it in a full Olaf costume?
I don’t mean one of those cheap ones you can get around Halloween. They’re totally fine for trick-or-treating, but this needed to be some next-level, frosty awesomeness. I mean a really good Olaf costume, one a little more like you might see at a certain famous theme park in Southern California.
Sure, it would be a little goofy – which I’m admittedly great at – but it also might work.
Besides, 8-foot snowmen are harder to find than a Santa Clara basketball team that can beat Gonzaga. It was definitely worth a try and I wouldn’t even need to buy a full-page ad in a newspaper 800 miles away to get people to pay attention.
It’s pretty hard to ignore a song-and-dance snowman who is taller than Przemek Karnowski.
It’s a Spokane thing
The Kettle Kickoff feels so Spokane to me, the sort of thing that this community does so well. That’s because it is a Spokane thing.
It was dreamed up by the CEO of Washington Trust, Pete Stanton, and his wife, Denise. They challenged the executives of other downtown businesses to get out in the cold to ring a bell to help raise funds for the Salvation Army.
There’s something so special about downtown Spokane uniting in this way to encourage people near their businesses to put extra change – or maybe much more – into one of those iconic red kettles.
This year, over 40 local businesses committed to the three-day launch of this important moment of holiday giving. Earlier this week, we all began to notice who was participating in the bell ringing throughout our streets. Car dealers. Accountants. Doctors. Grocery stores. Restaurants. Hotels. Even the mayor’s office. Kettles set up across downtown, from River Park Square to the U.S. Bank building.
They all deserve your support – let’s just agree to support them with the your pocket change. Save the $20s, $50s and $100s for your visit to see the coolest snowman on the planet who happens to be ringing the bell in front of the most handsome building in Spokane.
Today’s the last day of this Salvation Army annual kickoff, and we’ll be ringing the bell in front of our iconic tower starting bright and early, through about 4 p.m. Folks from across all of our newspaper’s different departments will be wishing you a “Happy Holiday” with that crisp chime starting at 9 a.m.
Even my boss, Spokesman-Review publisher Stacey Cowles, will be out there in the morning.
Please support them as they support the fundraising needs of the Salvation Army, money that makes a real difference in our community.
But the important time to note is 1 p.m.
That’s when I will be out there. Oops. I mean that’s when Olaf will be out there.
Trust me, you’re going to want to see a giant bell-ringing snowman standing in front of one of the coolest newspaper buildings in the country.
And you’re going to want to bring some money for the Salvation Army.
As well as your cellphone.
Trust me, your kids, your grandkids, really any child in your life is going to be blown away when you show them a picture of yourself with the most culturally significant snowman since Frosty.
Besides, it’s totally not beneath your local newspaper editor to dress up like him if it means giving you a reason to help out those in our community who need the help that the Salvation Army is so good at providing.
Yes, Olaf is coming to town. He’s making a list and checking it twice. So be there.
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