This past Thursday marked the 26th annual Ladysmith Festival of Lights — and my first.
Prior to crossing the water a month and a half ago, I’d heard all about Light Up night from the five years I was living in Vancouver.
But I guess with these things you have to see it to believe it, or certainly appreciate it fully.
When I arrived at work this past Thursday morning and as I drove through town, I sensed a unique buzz and excitement from our locals that was one of a kind.
I knew I was on the verge of viewing something special.
My first assignment of the day was to head off to the craft fair at Aggie Hall to shoot some photos.
That was at 3 p.m. and by that time the holiday cheer was already in full swing.
Christmas is arguably one of the most enjoyable times of the calendar year.
In many articles I’ve written over the years, I’ve used the phrase, “as the community unites as one,” or something along those lines.
But this was the definition of that.
And what’s more, I bumped into many others who had travelled into town from other areas of Vancouver Island, the province, the country and North America. But that’s just the Festival of Lights’ draw.
As nightfall came I headed downtown to join the masses and experience all the fun.
I was lucky enough to witness Mike Battie’s juggling expertise, Skellig’s spectacular musicality on the main stage, and a Christmas parade like no other.
The illuminated cement truck that brought the parade home was an amazing sight to see and the fireworks display was one of the best ever. It certainly topped all the displays I used to witness every year come Guy Fawks bonfire night Nov. 5 in the United Kingdom.
After Santa turned on the lights and the parade came to a close, I began to walk north down 1st Avenue towards Aggie Hall again for the fireworks.
As I marched down, a couple of times I deliberately stopped and stood still in order to soak in all the atmosphere and pictures that were forthcoming.
To see that crowd of people, with thousands upon thousands swarming down Ladysmith’s main drag, was one of the most fascinating sights I have ever seen in my life.
A Christmas bonanza had arrived in this small town.
Yes the Festival of Lights has gotten me. I hope to have the privilege of being part of many more in years to come.