Douglas —  The Little Red Shop was a sea of green as hundreds of friends and acquaintances of Preston and Terry Cull filled the venue for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations Sunday.

For nearly 12 hours, the shop was filled with music and laughter, keeping alive the long tradition of celebrating the 17th in the Douglas community.

Realizing the importance of the Irish culture to the area, the Culls launched their own St. Patrick’s Day party after the closing of the Douglas Hotel in 2019. Many of the same people who would have attended celebrations hosted by Terry and Evelyn McHale continue to celebrate the day thanks to the Culls.

The Kyle Felhaver band provided music until about 6:30 when DJ Shannon from Eganville finished off the next five hours.

Something new this year was the revival of the sweater and hat auction. For more than 25 years, a specially-made Irish jersey and Terry McHale’s green Irish hat were auctioned off near the end of the celebrations at the hotel. Over the years, these auctions raised more than $100,000 for Renfrew Victoria Hospital and Hospice Renfrew.

Last Sunday, the tradition returned with Auctioneers Cull, John O’Neill and Art Jamieson taking bids on the first ever Irish jersey to be auctioned at the Cull celebration and Mr. Cull’s hat. The jersey was designed and made by Annie (Bruce) Craig of Carp,

The jersey sold for an amazing $5,000 and the hat went for $2,000, raising $7,000 for Hospice Renfrew.

Jerry and Cindy Skebo of Pakenham purchased the jersey and Jim McHale of Douglas went home with a new hat.

Mr. Skebo said he purchased the jersey for a couple of reasons, the first one being their desire to give back to the community and support Hospice Renfrew.

“It’s a pretty important place and it means a lot to many people and families,” he said. “We wanted to do something that helps people and fortunately we are in a position to support things like that.”

The second reason for bidding on the jersey is he likes to “get the first, the last and some things that kind of stand out.

“So that was a first for one of those jerseys,” he said.

The Skebos are co-owners of Ottawa Valley Oxygen in Renfrew.

Mr. Skebo expressed his gratitude to the Culls for keeping the Irish celebrations in alive in the Douglas community.

“It’s definitely the closest thing to what it used to be like at the Douglas Tavern, for sure,” he said. “A lot of familiar faces kind of adds to the celebrations as well. Basically, if you closed your eyes, you were there.”

Jim McHale is co-owner of Bromley Farm Supply in Douglas and he was more than happy to take home the hat.

“Not only can I use an extra hat, but the money is going to one of the best facilities in Renfrew County,” he said. “We always feel good when we can help out a place like Hospice Renfrew.”

The Culls also host the largest euchre tournament in the Valley in January each year, raising anywhere from $6,000 to $10,000 for hospice.

“I thought it was a great fundraiser for Hospice and it brings in a different crowd of people. Many who don’t play cards can come and bid on the jersey and hat and support Hospice,” Mr. Cull said of the Sunday celebrations.

The Little Red Shop on Rice Line has turned into a venue for various events in the Douglas community, but the Culls have no plans to turn it into a business. They plan to keep things simple so that their friends, neighbours and customers can enjoy it for years to come.