The Coldest Night of the Year this year is scheduled for Feb. 20, but people have a bit more wiggle room for their walk this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The event was originally conceived to give people a glimpse into what it’s like to have to spend time outside during the coldest part of the year. By walking in the cold of winter, participants get the experience of how difficult life can be in the cold. Though there is no large group walk this year, event director Diane Palmer said she’s recommending people think about what they would do if they wound up without a place to go.
“We encourage people to still walk, because it gives them a chance to understand what it would be like to come from a warm environment out into the cold,” she said. “We’re also encouraging people to get a sense of where they would go if they were unsheltered and on the streets. Where would they be able to find some warmth in these really cold times we’re experiencing?”
Participants are invited to walk any time between Feb. 13 and 20. Due to the pandemic, Palmer said they are not having a large event this year. However, they do want to have people fundraising and taking part in their own way. Participants are invited to take photos and videos of themselves as they are walking and tag CNOY and their sponsors (listed on their website) for a chance to win one of two gift baskets from either Starbucks or Thrifty Foods.
So far, the Campbell River event has raised just over $10,000, or around 30 per cent of their $35,000 goal. Palmer said they need around 60 more walkers to sign up in order to stay on track.
“In previous years, there’s been a registration fee. This year they’ve waived that, so it’s all about fundraising,” Palmer said. “A lot of (the funding) comes in in the last week. There’s a bit of a push, but people can do it.”
Walkers can sign up to a team, CNOY has a few open teams to choose from. Or they can sign up to walk individually. Alternatively, people can just donate without participating if they choose.
“We’re just keeping people individually or in their small bubbles. They can sign up a team and walk, either one or two of them or as a team if they’re a family,” she said. “If they don’t walk during the week and they want to be part of the bigger picture, throughout Canada there’ll be thousands of people walking at the same time on the 20th at 5 p.m. We’ll have a very short virtual send-off and go then.”