The Operation Red Nose (ORN) committee for Brandon's 2023 campaign has decided to cancel the service for this weekend.

This from the ORN committee:

The remaining dates of ORN are still up in the air according to the committee chair Gladden Smith, "If no other volunteer teams sign up we may have to cancel altogether." The concept of Operation Red Nose is to get three people in a vehicle for an evening while driving patrons and their vehicles back home safely. 

After a two-year hiatus caused by COVID-19 regulations, the program was relaunched in 2022 but saw the numbers of volunteers and the volume of calls for rides drop sharply. "The general consensus as to why numbers dropped off last year was the fact people may have been still leery about getting into stranger's cars but there were also fewer people going out to celebrate," said Smith. For those wondering, ORN cars are sanitized regularly with wipes and disinfectant spray.

At its peak, ORN ran in 80 communities across Canada providing thousands of rides each weekend the service ran. This year, 75 communities have organized committees to help run the service and 2 (Selkirk, MB. and Thunder Bay ON.) have already officially cancelled.

Operation Red Nose is run strictly on a volunteer basis with teams of three. The team picks you up and gets you as well as your vehicle home safely. "The ORN service offers a nice bonus of getting your vehicle home safely too which prevents you the inconvenience of having to go get it the following day," said Smith.   

The ride-home service aims to keep the roads safer during the Christmas Holiday season. “Operation Red Nose is an important community program for Manitoba’s road safety every holiday season and we are proud to facilitate this on behalf of Manitoba Public Insurance and our supporting partners,” said Ron Janzen, President and CEO of Safety Services Manitoba.

Folks wanting to volunteer can get registration forms online here, or by calling 204-728-NOSE, that's 204-728-6673. You can also pick up volunteer forms at the following Brandon locations: Murray Chev Cadillac at 1500 Richmond Avenue, CAA at 305B - 18th Street North, or Western Nations Gas Bar at 1725 - 18th Street North

At this point, Brandon's Operation Red Nose 2023 campaign is perilously close to being scrapped altogether according to ORN committee chair Gladden Smith, "Unfortunately, if we don't get more groups signing up we will have to cancel." 

Brandon isn't the only community experiencing a drop-off in volunteers and calls for the service. Smith feels it may be an unfortunate sign of the times, "Communities right across Canada are having a hard time getting volunteers. People in general have changed their habits since COVID. When driving around last year we noticed bars weren't nearly as busy and very few cars on streets. This year with the way inflation is going no one has the money to go out and pay 7 or 8 dollars per drink. Most people have house parties with DDs (designated drivers)," said Smith. 

A minimum of 10 groups of 3 are required to handle the normal call volume during any given weekend the service runs. The remaining weekends tentatively scheduled are December 1 & 2, 8 & 9, 15 & 16, and December 31st. Call 204-728-NOSE to book your ride. That's 204-728-6673.  The ride-home service is available from 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. on all nights of operation.

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