Light up crowd lightened my heart during dark incident

I am writing to you about an incident that occurred Friday night during the Duncan Light-up.

I own and operate The Red Balloon Toyshop and as part of the festivities, I was selling glow sticks, Santa hats and reindeer antlers on the street in front of my shop.

I had a table set up and a cash box on the table. At 8 p.m.(ish) a fellow reached over, grabbed the cash box and fled.

My first thought was to remain at my post.  However, in that instant I very loudly yelled ‘Hey!’ and leapt over my stuff and chased the fellow.

The crowd was very densely packed, so the fellow started pushing people aside, including children. As I caught up to him all I could hear was female voices screaming “what are you doing? You are pushing over my children!”

I put my hand on his shoulder and we both tripped and fell to the ground. As he landed, the cash box went flying.

This is where the story gets interesting.

Before I could do anything further, four or five people immediately surrounded the thief and prevented him from getting away.

I was very shaken at this point, not knowing what to do and feeling a bit overwhelmed. I looked for the cash box.

Two or three people had positioned themselves around the cash and were quickly picking up the money that had spilled out and were putting it back in the box (what was left of the box anyways), making sure none of it was lost.

I went over to help pick up the remainder and offer my thanks. After taking a few minutes to regain my composure and be consoled by the people around me, I returned to the store.

As I continued at my post, many people came by to ask if I was OK. The police arrived shortly thereafter and the fellow was taken to the police station. I have no idea what’s in store for him.

As I recall those events, I do not dwell on the reasons why the fellow took the cash, or the fact my pants became ripped and my knee bled and scabbed over.

Instead, I think about the all those people that came so quickly (almost instantaneously) to my aid.

I think of how they put themselves in harm’s way to ensure the safety of not only me, but the children and other people the fellow may have hurt as he tried to escape.

I think of those women who took charge of the cash and ensured it was protected even though it had nothing to do with them.

I am very thankful that I live and work in a community that has such incredibly caring and honest people.

It reminded me of the true meaning of Christmas: to give.

The people of the Cowichan Valley gave me assistance when I needed it most and I am truly grateful.

Ian Fairwell is owner of the Red Balloon Toyshop.

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