The countdown is on for the shimmering celebration that puts Ladysmith in the spotlight. The 27th annual Festival of Lights begins this Thursday (Nov. 27) with the family-friendly Light Up celebration, beginning at 3 p.m.
Cliff Fisher, president of the Ladysmith Festival of Lights Society, says the weather forecast looks like it’s going to be very good for Thursday, and volunteers have tested all the lights in town to make sure they’re working.
“Everything is just about connected and ready to go,” he said Sunday.
Light Up takes place Thursday in downtown Ladysmith. The fun begins at 3 p.m. with a Community Spaghetti Dinner hosted by the Ladysmith Eagles at Eagles Hall and a Christmas Craft Fair at Aggie Hall.
Street entertainment begins at 4 p.m., at which time the food concessions also open.
There will be entertainment on stage downtown and in front of Aggie Hall from 4-6:15 p.m., and Santa will arrive to light up Ladysmith at 6:30 p.m.
The Kinsmen Parade begins at 6:45 p.m. and travels along First Avenue from south of Roberts Street to Aggie Hall.
After the parade, the Chuck Perrin Christmas tree at Aggie Field will be lit up, and there will be a grand finale fireworks spectacular, sponsored by Ladysmith and District Credit Union.
This year, the Festival of Lights Society will be selling new wands during Light Up. There are two different kinds of light wands — a red and white one that looks like a candy cane or a north pole, and a flashing wand. Fisher says they will be brighter than the wands they’ve sold in the past. Festival of Lights Society volunteers will be selling the wands under a big tent in the library parking lot, and the sales raise money for Light Up.
“They’re a very important fundraiser for us,” said Fisher.
There will be some new food concessions this year, including the Cassidy Country Kitchen mobile kitchen.
First Avenue will be closed on Nov. 27 from 3-10 p.m. Access to and from the Island Highway at Bob Stuart Park will also be closed from 5-10 p.m. As well, pets are not allowed downtown on Light Up.
There will be no parking on Second Avenue other than for residents.
“We’ve been looking at that for a couple of years now, and a fire truck cannot get down from Buller to Symonds,” said Fisher.
There will also be restricted parking from Symonds to Strathcona.
“We’re paying more attention to safety and crowd control this year,” said Fisher. “We’re paying more attention to a bigger ‘wow’ with very little change. We have better lighting, better safety and more entertainment.”
This year, there are brand-new LED lights at City Hall and on the fence at Aggie Field.
“They’re very brilliant and very bright,” said Fisher. “We’re really pleased and ready to go.”
Doug West has built new stars for the fence at Aggie Field, and volunteers have decorated them with new LED lights.
“They look absolutely beautiful,” said Fisher. “The LEDs really excite us. When we tried them, we didn’t realize how impressive they were over samples we’d tried a few years ago.”
Fisher says they have a lot of volunteers, and many people have been donating their old lights to the Festival of Lights Society.
Fisher is excited that this year will be the 27th Festival of Lights and that it’s still such a successful event.
A big part of that success is the community support that goes into the event. Volunteers come out in droves to help string up lights and put up decorations during a work party in early November, and many businesses and organizations provide in-kind support.
“With no questions asked, they’ll just be there and help put up the lights,” said Fisher.
“The fact we are still able to get the support from our sponsors and the Town of Ladysmith and BC Gaming, it’s encouraging that it’s important to others besides ourselves to make that work. We have new volunteers in our community who are jumping in. There’s a real pride in this community to make this happen.”