Turning up the energy for Voltage

Austin M.
Austin M. Davis
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Joe Dueck can succinctly boil down the message of the annual New Year’s Eve party known as Voltage.

Voltage attendees cheer for Edmonton-based group Junkyard Poets. Times-Herald file photo

“Look around at the opportunities, and don’t let yourself just sit in the basement, playing video games your entire life,” Dueck said.

“There’s a real world out there, kids, and it’s just waiting for you to get out there and make a difference and accomplish something huge.”

During its 13 years, Voltage has survived a name change, but the original concept that Dueck and local youth pastors came up with never changed.

“There was just this idea that there was no big, fun party that was chem-free to keep the kids out of a trouble on a night that is known for all the trouble kids can get in to,” Dueck said. “We knew that even if you had a party early in the evening there was still time for kids to go out and make bad decisions and get in trouble after.”

The result, Dueck said, was a chemical-free, all-night party “that cannot be rivaled by anyone.”

Last year Voltage drew 550 teenagers to the party. Dueck is expecting around 650 attendees for the party at Hillcrest Apostolic Church from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m.

This year’s theme is “Awaken,” and Dueck said it has multiple meanings.

“We just want to encourage youth who maybe are just living the status quo, they’ve believed some of the propaganda of the media, that is lose weight, look out for number one, make money, get the latest gadgets and that’ll make you happy,” Dueck said. “We all know that life is much more fulfilled if you take care of things more than just that.”

Because the new year is closely connected with resolutions, Dueck said teens making the choice to spend New Year’s Eve without drugs and alcohol are more likely to spend 2014 in the same fashion.

World Vision, Youth Quake and Briercrest College and Seminary will all have booths set up so teenagers can talk about changing the world, being part of the biggest party on the prairies and their future educations.

But even the best laid plans are vulnerable to the unpredictable.

“We had a little bit of a glitch in that the band we had booked had a bit of a medical emergency come up and it became clear they weren’t going to be able to perform,” Dueck said.

He, and the other organizers, knew it would be difficult finding a talented group on short notice to play a New Year’s Eve show.

“We got some quotes from one band that could do it for $10,000 and another that could do it for $5,000 and we though ‘Oh boy, we’re in trouble,’” Dueck said.

The Color said they could do the show for $3,000. The sum was covered by the Five Hills Regional Medical Association. Dr. Brad Thorpe, the president of the association said in a press release that “we as medical professionals support this whole concept of the chem-free party for the youth of our city.”

“They just wanted to make sure the youth had this chem.-free party option and that they had a party to remember,” Dueck said.

Austin M. Davis can be reached at 306-691-1258 or follow him on Twitter @theAustinX

Organizations: Youth Quake and Briercrest College, Hillcrest Apostolic Church, World Vision

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