Over the course of the night, 18 volunteers with Operation Red Nose provided 42 different rides home between 7:45 p.m. and 3:15 a.m.
The evening started off slowly, but got busier and busier as the hours passed.
“Once it got started, then it really took off,” Operation Red Nose chairman Jim Wilm said. “The teams … were just getting ready to go out when I left there about 11, and they were just going around to all the sights, just to touch bases and leave cards and whatnot wherever there were events being held.
“So obviously that was a major factor, and it always has been in all of our nights that we’ve had it … going out and just making sure that people are aware that this is the option for them … It turned out exceptionally well.”
The Prince Albert Lions Club first organized Operation Red Nose in the city last year as the local expression of a national initiative based out of Quebec. The program seeks to reduce drinking and driving by having volunteers give rides home to partygoers in their own vehicles.
Wilm estimated that Operation Red Nose provided more than 150 rides home in Prince Albert over the course of the holiday season, greatly exceeding expectations.
Though there are no statistics for last year, anecdotal evidence seems to indicate a marked increase in rides.
Once it got started, then it really took off. - Jim Wilm
“We had five teams on the road last night, which was … absolutely good,” Wilm said. “We kind of figured that New Year’s Eve would probably be a fairly busy night, and even though there didn’t seem like there were that many public events on … a lot of people (hosted) house parties and small events, and I think that played a big part in it too.”
Given the program’s resounding success during the 2012 holiday season, Prince Albert clearly hasn’t seen the last of Operation Red Nose.
Wilm said there was “no doubt” that the program would return next year, and showered praise on the community for its support.
“We went out yesterday morning with our whole team just to go and touch base with all our sponsors and people that have supported us,” he said. “It was almost a unanimous support that, ‘If you guys do it again, we’re going to be there to be with you.’ So that is good news in itself.
“All our sponsors of vehicles and donations … the media, it was just overwhelmingly supportive, so we’re really excited about it. There’s no doubt that it’s a start now and it’ll continue to grow.”