Cheers: To Santa. Sometimes, a business idea is simply ahead of its time. Such is the case with Vancouver-based Visit With Santa, a platform that for the past four years has provided virtual visits with St. Nick.
Now, with most social interaction moving online, Visit With Santa is preparing for a banner holiday season. “We’ve seen a fairly large uptick in traffic and sales,” CEO Fred Lueck said. In addition to providing a chance for children to meet with Santa — a five-minute video chat costs $24.99 — the service also provides an outlet for Santas who typically work at shopping malls during the holidays but might not be able to this year. And some of them prefer the video chats to facing a line of waiting customers. As Santa himself said, “The hook, I think, is that it’s more intimate than a chair visit.”
Jeers: To panic buying. With governors in Washington and Oregon reinstituting some lockdown orders, many stores in the Northwest are again reporting a shortage of toilet paper. This repeats one of the most memorable — and regrettable — results of initial lockdown orders in March, when most stores in the area were unable to keep toilet paper in stock.
In case anybody needs a reminder: There is no reason to hoard toilet paper; only purchase enough for your immediate needs and leave some for other shoppers. Additional advice comes from the Newport (Ore.) Police Department, which reminded residents not to call 911 if they run out of toilet paper. “You will survive without our help,” it wrote online.
Cheers: To Karen Bean. The 65-year-old Vancouver woman has turned the pandemic into something positive for herself and her community. As detailed in an article by Columbian reporter Wyatt Stayner, Bean had been working on losing weight through exercising and eating right when the pandemic closed her gym.
She then turned to walking at a park near her house. Noticing the park could use some weeding, she went to work. “Anytime you do any type of exercise, it helps you with your mood,” she said. Neighbors started pitching in to beautify the park, and Bean tries to work on it for 60 to 90 minutes each day. The result? Over the past 14 months, she has lost 100 pounds.
Jeers: To racism. Ken Boddie of KOIN (Channel 6), a longtime fixture on Portland TV news, this week shared an example of vile racism that is too often evident in this country. Boddie, who is Black, posted a photo of a letter he received spouting the kind of hatred we all must be vigilant in fighting.
In commenting on the incident, Boddie wrote, “I am not interested in more notoriety or ‘going viral.’ However, in this case, you need to know that things like this happen, and that real people are affected by this level of hateful absurdity. If you are mentally ill, please get the help you need. If you are just hate-filled, I pray for your soul.” Well said.
Cheers: To a big boat. Bart Lematta apparently is the new owner of a ferry. The Vancouver man bid $290,000 at auction for a vessel that has been docked at the Port of Olympia for two years.
“How could I not be here?” Lematta told The Olympian. Firm plans have not been made for the 310-foot ferry that once carried up to 981 passengers and 87 vehicles; it’s not the kind of thing you park along the side of the house. But Lematta speculated about whether renewable energy could power the vessel. “Renewable energy is our only way to go forward,” he said.