It was the first year of Operation Red Nose in Burnaby and New Westminster and local organizers are already calling it a huge success.
"We couldn't be happier with how it's gone," said local coordinator Chris Wilson. "In New Westminster, 39 volunteers signed up and 80 rides were given. In Burnaby, 41 volunteers got involved and 141 rides were given. Support from the community was phenomenal."
In comparison, when Wilson and other volunteers launched the program in the Tri-Cities, they did 107 rides total.
"To do 221 rides in Burnaby and New Westminster in the first year is just fantastic," said Wilson, who added that special nights where the City of Burnaby had 16 volunteers come forward and the New Westminster Police Department had 22 volunteers help out were very good nights.
On New Year's Eve, the numbers were even more impressive.
"On the four weekends before New Year's Eve when we were giving out rides, it was pretty spread out between 9:30 p.m. and 3 a.m.," said Wilson. "On New Year's Eve, it was the busiest night we had, with 169 rides, but we did only three before midnight. We did 166 rides in Burnaby, New Westminster and the Tri-Cities between midnight and 4:30 a.m.
"We had 30 teams working and that included 52 new volunteers who signed up in the final weekend. We had so many volunteers that we sent some off to Operation Red Nose campaigns in Richmond, Langley and Maple Ridge."
As Wilson and other volunteers worked feverishly to coordinate the 30 teams, they learned valuable lessons that they'll be able to use for next year's campaign.
"When you have that many people, you have to be really efficient to make sure you're using all your resources properly," he said. "The time just flew by on New Year's Eve because we were all so busy."
Wilson said that final numbers on donations received are still being added up, but it's not too early to say this year has been a great success.
"The tougher drinking and driving laws have changed people's behaviors to some extent," said Wilson. "When you have a service like this where volunteers will drive you and your car home and all donations go to KidSport, there's really no excuse to drink and drive."
Wilson said the program wouldn't have been possible without the volunteers who gave their time to the operation.
"Lori Combes from Burnaby Crime Watch and Shelley Cole from NWPD Crime Prevention were fabulous at getting some of their volunteers on board," said Wilson. "We can't thank them enough. We also had a lot of volunteers who weren't attached to the police, but just wanted to make a difference and had heard it was a lot of fun. We also have to thank Metropolis at Metrotown, who came on as a major sponsor and all the media outlets who helped us get the word out. We couldn't have done it without that support."
Operation Red Nose is a free, seasonal service organized by KidSport and the Rotary Club of Coquitlam Sunrise, in partnership with ICBC, that not only allows party-goers to get home safely, but their vehicles too.
The service ran on four weekends starting Nov. 30 and on New Year's Eve between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m.