Deer Lake, Newfoundland Hosts Christmas Potluck For Stranded Travellers

After a Christmas Eve flight from Toronto to St. John’s was diverted to Deer Lake, N.L. due to high winds, the 75 or so passengers stranded in the tiny town faced the prospect of a hungry Christmas. 

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Their rescheduled flight wasn’t until 9 p.m. Christmas Day, and all of the food outlets in and around their hotel were closed for the holiday.

But, the people of Deer Lake weren’t going to let that ruin the travellers’ holidays. 

Resident Brian Snow, who also works with the Salvation Army, put out a call on Facebook to his fellow locals. 

“Since nothing is open and there is no restaurant at the Holiday Inn, we need sandwiches, leftover turkey and food items to help these passengers,” Snow wrote.

Within minutes, people sprung into action.

“Making sandwiches now…” one person wrote, while another offered to open up their store just to get supplies to the stranded passengers.

Before long, there was a full Christmas dinner for the stranded passengers in the hotel lobby. 

“In less than 30 minutes we had the place full of sandwiches, cookies, chicken wings, hot rabbit stew, full plates of Christmas dinner, hot crab dip, Newfie tea buns, cheese, meat and crackers, pop, chips, cheesies,” Snow wrote on Facebook.

People who lived in the area abandoned their own celebrations to drive passengers to the airport for their rescheduled flight. 

“It was certainly a Christmas Day to remember.”

The heartwarming event brought to mind another moment of Canadian hospitality, if on a much larger scale. On Sept. 11, 2001, 38 planes were diverted to Gander N.L. following the 9-11 terrorist attacks. The town hosted thousands of stranded passengers for up to six days until airspace over the U.S. reopened.

The events inspired the hit Broadway musical, “Come From Away,” which dramatized the experiences of the “plane people” in Gander and the bonds they built with residents. The musical was nominated for seven Tony Awards, ultimately winning one.

A “come from away” refers to someone from outside of Atlantic Canada who came to Newfoundland.

People often say East Coasters are friendly, and the folks in Deer Lake certainly fit the bill!

HuffPost Canada has reached out to both Snow and Westjet for comment. 

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