Two-year-old Lucas Holtom was killed in the Pine Lake, Alberta tornado.
Credits: QMI AGENCY FILES
EDMONTON - More than a decade after a tornado tore through a central Alberta campground, an annual carnival in honour of the storm's youngest casualty continues to grow.
On July 14, 2000, a fierce twister ripped through a campground and trailer park on Pine Lake, where a dozen people were killed and 140 were injured.
Twelve years later, a carnival celebrating the life of two-year-old Lucas Holtom, has become "a beacon of hope for the community," says his father, Jamie Holtom.
"It's a tragedy that we all wish hadn't happened. But in the midst of that, here is such an incredible day that is such a blessing," he said, adding that Saturday was a mixture of happiness and sadness.
"Even though this day remembers a beautiful little boy that should still be with us, and part of that is unfair, we're still blessed. We've still got life and that's the good thing."
Holtom, who is from Brampton, Ont., was in Alberta visiting family that fateful July day. The family had just returned to a friend's cabin from the Calgary Zoo, when the sky started to turn.
He, along with wife Katrina, their four-week old daughter and Lucas, huddled in the bedroom of a cabin at the campground resort.
The winds were so great that Lucas was ripped right from his dad's arms. It wouldn't be long before reality would set in that he had been killed, said Holtom.
But Holtom, a pastor in Brampton, was determined to turn the tragedy into a positive.
For the past 11 years, the family has put on a free kids carnival, with rides, entertainers, and games.
"In the midst of a day that could be so sad, there is such life and hope at this carnival," Holtom said.
"I think people go home with a deeper appreciation of those in our lives, and are more aware of how fragile life can be."
About 4,500 people attended this year's carnival.