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The President's Letter: January 2024

Updated: Jun 15

By: Ryan Bowman, HAHS President

January 1, 2024

I’ve never really been a New Year’s resolution kind of guy.

Now please don’t get me wrong. There are indeed plenty of changes that I could usher into my life to make myself a better person. You can simply ask my immediate family about that. I’m sure a list of some much-needed improvements could quickly be compiled if there isn’t one already waiting. It’s not that I look down on this traditional practice. No, what has never made me a fan of New Year’s resolutions is the waiting. I suppose it’s just part of my personality to not put off doing things as soon as I see they need doing.

Thus, waiting until the new year rolls around to make lifestyle adjustments just never seems to happen. I guess I’m just ignoring that aforementioned list for other, less excusable reasons. Looking back at the previous year, however, that’s something that I do quite often. I am the president of a historical society after all. Looking back is sort of what we do.

2023 was an eventful year for the Halifax Area Historical Society with a lot of changes taking place.

We implemented some new procedures for the museum, set up some new committees, started off our “fiscal” year in June with some new board members, established an active and dynamic online presence, really dug into marketing campaigns for events, pursued the recording of some newfound local history, worked to establish connections in the community with businesses and like-minded organizations, and much, much more.

Of course, not everything went according to plan, but I think it would be safe to say we’ve made progress in making the HAHS a bit more vibrant, active, and recognized in the community.

The Belsnickel and Jim Reed at the 20th Anniversary Belsnickel Parade, December 2024. Photograph by Dylan Bowman.

Take for example the recent 20th anniversary of the Belsnickel Holiday Parade and Festival. We received a lot of positive feedback on the day’s events from many. The parade was one of the largest in recent years, at least as far as most can remember, and we held the first ever Belsnickel Market Village, which was a resounding success for many of the vendors involved. The community bonfire, free s’mores, children’s crafts and face painting all saw a lot of participation from the community with old friends and new coming out in force.

There were plenty of things that went wrong that day for us to learn from as well. Because of the substantial turnout, we ran out of food very early, “traffic” flow in the Youth Center was tight at times, parking was an ever present challenge, and the parade set-up was a bit chaotic with all the other demands on our volunteers’ time.

Of course, we were blessed with pleasant weather on that day. The Friday before and the Sunday afterward were two very rainy days flanking both sides of that cloudy but mostly dry Saturday at the beginning of December, which boasted a mild temperature in the low 50s. Luck? Perhaps. But I’d like to think that it was God Almighty himself smiling down on the labor and plans of so many for the festivities of the day.

It may be shocking to hear, but discussions and planning for the 2024 Belsnickel Holiday Parade and Festival have already begun. Rest assured, talk of making it smaller in any way has not been heard around the planning table. Mark your calendars now for the first Saturday in December when we get to do it all again. You will not want to miss it!

Attendees enjoy the 2023 Belsnickel Festivities. Photograph by Dylan Bowman.

Looking back on the rest of the year, I feel thankful and blessed for all those individuals who supported us and saw fit to donate their time, talents, or treasure for any event. The ambitious changes that we have seen in the Society would not be possible without the selfless dedication of so many friends and members helping us along the way.

However, as is said - there’s always room for more. We could always use more volunteers. As I believe we have shown, with additional help we can continue to grow the events the society hosts and those we take out to the community. There’s more than enough work for these events, so that just a small portion of it being picked up by another set of hands makes the journey that much more pleasant and successful for us all. We will never expect more than you desire to give or ask you to do more than you can. We could surely use your assistance.

I read somewhere recently that communication is the foundation that relationships are built on. If you’re possibly going to come out and help us this year, while we have your attention, I suppose we should clearly share our vision once again. It goes without saying that here at the Society our passion is for history, but we also have a strong affection for our community and the ties that bind us all together.

As it turns out then, maybe I am a New Year's resolution kind of guy. I think I can speak for the entire Board of Directors when I say this… for 2024 we at the Halifax Area Historical Society resolve to do our best to preserve the past of the Halifax area, actively engaging with the community on all possible occasions and, in so doing, do our part to make the valleys we all call home a little bit better in the process.

If we can but enlighten a few about the wonderful stories this region of the country has to offer and intrigue them to learn more, then we will have done our duty and our time spent in the leadership roles here will not have been in vain.

So welcome 2024 and help us make history!


Ryan Bowman

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