QUINN’S QUIPS: Who is the creature in the shiny red mask?

Annual Alberni Valley News story contest kicks off for 2020

”Once upon a time…” (METRO CREATIVE)

”Once upon a time…” (METRO CREATIVE)

“When our family arrived home from the Holiday Skate at the Multiplex, someone wearing a shiny red mask jumped out from the hedge…”

Who was the masked character? Why were they wearing a mask? What did they want? What the heck is the Holiday Skate?

It’s your turn to tell us the answers to all these questions, in our annual Alberni Valley News story contest.

Publisher Teresa Bird introduced the contest a number of years ago, bringing the idea with her from another paper when she joined the AV News. It was a popular feature at the North Island Gazette, and she thought the time was right to bring it to Port Alberni. She has earned accolades nationally for the feature (we won Canadian Community Newspaper Awards in 2016 and 2017 and some papers across Canada have adopted the idea), which runs in the last edition before Christmas and includes greetings from advertisers.

It’s my favourite feature of the year. I loved writing stories when I was a kid, and I still do—although I tend to be sharing other people’s stories now. We receive more than 100 stories every year, with some classes in School District 70 using the contest as a class writing project. I get to read a lot of those stories as we narrow down entries.

Planning for the feature begins earlier in the fall, when we start thinking about a story prompt—everyone must start their stories with the same sentence, and then it’s a free-for-all to the finish.

This year we thought we would include in the prompt the Holiday Skate at the Multiplex, which was supposed to be a scaled-down version of Winter Wonderland. It was a gamble with the way 2020 has panned out so far, and this year we lost—the event was cancelled. We’re pretty sure it won’t matter to our writers, though: they are a creative bunch!

We are always surprised at the direction the stories take—and marvel at how our younger authors can wiggle in Transformers every. single. year.

There are five age categories ranging from Kindergarten to Grades 9–12 and an adult category too. Prizes will be awarded to the top 2 in each category, and winners will be published in our souvenir edition Dec. 23.

Entries cannot be over 300 words—this is important!­—and all work must be original.

If you’re entering, make sure your name, age, school (if applicable) and a contact phone number or e-mail is provided. E-mail submissions to publisher Teresa Bird at publisher@albernivalleynews.com (preferred method) or drop them off at our office, 4918 Napier Street between Third and Fourth Avenues.

The deadline is Dec. 9 at 5 p.m. to get your stories in.

Hurry: I’m dying to know who that masked someone is, and why they were jumping out from the hedge!

Susie Quinn is the Alberni Valley News editor. She has been accused at times of having an overactive imagination.

ChristmascontestPort Alberni