memorable band trip and a lesson in what makes small towns great are what a Yorkton band director hopes his students will take away from being storm-stayed in Morse, Saskatchewan.
They were among a number of people travelling in the province who got caught in the weather and ended up spending the night in a hall, church or small business in one of Saskatchewan's smaller communiites. Others were left stranded at Davidson and Chamberlain.
About 85 students, their director Mark Zarewucha, and several chaperones were traveling hom to Yorkton from a band festival when they hit the worst part of the storm on Sunday.
“The roads were fine and it was like somebody turned a light switch off on us and the roads got really bad and icy with lots of snow,” Zarewucha described.
They were travelling on Highway 1 east of Swift Current when one of the two buses hit a patch of ice, forcing the driver to turn into the ditch. There was so much snow in the ditch that the people inside couldn’t open the doors of the bus.
When the second bus reached the nearby town of Morse, community members came to the rescue, shoveling out the bus and shuttling the students back to the town hall.
“The community has been amazing. People from the community have been bringing food. They’ve been bringing blankets,” Zarewucha said.
Between pizza for supper, pancakes for breakfast and internet connections on their phones for entertainment he says the students seem to be in a pretty decent mood all things considered.
“Students are experiencing what small town Saskatchewan hospitality is really like,” Zarewucha explained.
He hopes it’s a lesson and a trip they won’t soon forget.
“I think probably this will be the most memorable band trip for a lot of these students,” he said.
Meanwhile Highway 11 was shut down around 8 p.m. Sunday after a semi jack knifed near Girvin, leaving even more drivers stranded in Davidson and Chamberlain.
Davidson Mayor Clayton Schneider says as many as 150 people were either billeted, or put up at a church in their town.
“There was people sleeping in their cars so we just kind of went up to them and asked them – said you know you’re welcome to stay at the church,” Scheider commented.
Further south on Highway 11, Chamberlain's village population more than doubled for the night.
All six rooms at the hotel were full and local businesses opened their doors.
Some people even bunked down at Folkster’s Restaurant.
“At the restaurant here there was 50 and the hall there was around 48 in there,” explained Gina Folk.
She says they shared a few laughs with several families who were caught in the storm after trying to drive home from hockey tournaments and bowling events in Regina.
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