Saturday, December 13, 2014
|Murray McIntyre ‘Jerry’ Forbes
I was lucky to watch the amazing growth of his ‘baby’ – 630 CHED’s Santas Anonymous – as I grew up as a 5 year old here in 1955 and watched year after year to see how it has blossomed to where it sits today as (his line) “part of the social fabric of Edmonton.”
Being very young in the 50’s I have little recollection of the early years of Santas Anonymous but as I grew up Christmas was a pretty special time of the year in the Forbes household .
Brothers Gord, Gerry and I all followed Dad into the radio business and all were geographically separated from both of our parents in Edmonton and Toronto for most of our lives.
However when we were all fortunate enough to be under one roof with Dad Santas Anonymous was very much part of our gatherings.
Often Dad would be on the phone (his line) ‘directing traffic’ to the crew – station personnel at their 107th street downtown location – the Chief Elf Gary Draeger for the many years he handled Santas – and/or just friends and people we don’t even know phoning the house with stories.
To this day I can see Dad in ‘his chair’ – fire crackling – a glass of Cutty Sark in his hand – pipe firmly in his lips as above – and some Dinah Washington on the ‘record player’ waiting for that final phone call that said “it’s done Jer – we did it again!’
What started in that downtown building with approximately 300 toys has now grown to around 25,000 toys annually. It is one of the biggest toy donation programs ‘in the world!’
Three generations of Edmontonians have now been part of the experience of bundling up in the cold weather (and some years have had MAJOR blizzards) – often with their children and now grand children in hand – getting their green garbage bags full of toys; addresses and directions and heading out on delivery day.
|Joel Forbes standing by the streets named after Dad in Riverbend.
Over the years, as CHED was sold by Moffat Communications – they moved out of the downtown core on to Roper Road – joining CISN, FRESH FM, and i880 news under the Corus banner.
Also, over the years, a few other ‘key’ people have had the reins of Santas Anonymous including Debbie Walker and now Lana Norland.
Both have taken the program to new heights; both have had several major challenges to keep the program as successful as it is today.
Currently there is a group of us who have been working on building a permanent home for Santas Anonymous, which would include several other community groups all working under one roof.
This will be dedicated to my late Father and his work with Santas Anonymous and be called The Jerry Forbes Centre for Community Spirit.
Information is here: http://jerryforbescentre.ca
Dad passed away at just 58 years of age in September of 1981 but every December he is ‘very much alive’ as 630 CHED airs his legendary ‘A Creature was Stirring’ production that honours the true champions of Santas Anonymous – YOU – the volunteers and people who deliver presents to needy families in our city.
Here’s a great video of how the entire program has worked over all these years.
Each September approximately 2,500 Edmonton motorcyclists host an annual Santas Toy Run and thousands of toys, and dollars, are donated to the cause. http://edmontonmotorcycletoyrun.info
|Edmonton Santas Toy Run – Capilano Mall
The cash donated during the Toy Run is used to buy ‘supplies’ for Santas Anonymous – ie. Scotch tape, wrapping paper, etc.
The Toy Run is culminated at Hawrelak Park where bikers from every walk of life – from Hell’s Angels to Grandma’s gather.
Each and every Christmas I take a few personal moments to find a quiet corner and ‘reflect’ on this amazing event. There is no way to measure my pride; nor of how wonderful it is that my children also enjoy the benefit of the name Forbes – and how his ‘giving back to the community’ is very much a part of their daily lives.
Every year I enjoy hearing his ‘A Creature was Stirring’ on 630 CHED – which is likely the longest running piece of creative on Canadian Radio. I’ve searched high and low through industry sites and simply can’t find anything that has run on any radio station in Canada year after year for close to 45 plus years.
Finally…I’m asked often “What would your Dad say if he were alive today and saw this?”
My answer is very simple – honest – and respectful!
He’d simply say……………………….. “THANK YOU EDMONTON!”
Merry Christmas from the Forbes Family!