A truck makes its way down First Avenue as part of the 30th Festival of Lights parade in 2017. (Mike Gregory Photo)

Ladysmith ready to flick switch on 31st Festival of Lights celebration

Santa arrives downtown at 6:30 p.m to officially light up town

In 1987 Bill Fitzpatrick and some friends from the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce had an idea that would bring some sparkle to the town. Over three decades later more than 200,000 lights, 27 members, hundreds of volunteers, thousands of volunteer hours and an average of more than 20,000 attendees make this event one of the biggest small town Festival of Lights around.

Bill passed away in 2017 but he got to see that spark of an idea grow into a brilliant festival that is unrivaled on the Island.

Thursday night, Ladysmith will celebrate the 31st Festival of Lights.

“It is all about the people.” said Alex Cook, president of the Ladysmith Festival of Lights Committee. “When we put out the call for help we can count on 75 or 80 people, With the good weather we had this year more than 100 people showed up. Our volunteers take pride in their work and pride in their town.”

When asked why he does it, Alex, who has been involved for close to 6 years said, “because it feels so good to be a part of it, there is tremendous satisfaction in giving back.”

There are also lots of volunteers and donations of support from the business community. This year the entire staff and families of GNB Builders showed up to help.

Many people have been working on Festival of Lights for years for years, Duck Paterson and Bill Drysdale can always be found working with the people and equipment required to put up the lights.

In 2015 this writer had the pleasure of going to the top of the Chuck Perrin tree with Bill so we could measure the frame for the new top lights. We were lifted to the top of the tree by a large crane from RKM. Bill had no fear of stepping out of the bucket and walking on the old angle bar frame, I have to admit I was pretty nervous up there.

People in their 80s and parents with their children come and volunteer for the installation and setup of the lights. Installation started this year on November 4th while planning started long before that. Teacher Patty Cavers brought her grade 5 class to help put up the lights for the Ladysmith Resource Centre.

FOL Director Robin Francis encourages young people to come out and help.

“It would be great to have more high school students come and volunteer, they would enjoy taking pride and ownership in something that is so good for the community.”

Several committee members mentioned the importance of bringing more young people on board. “We are all getting older and we could use some younger faces around the planning table and to learn the ropes.”

Each year the Aggie Hall hosts a big Craft and Artisan Fair and 2018 is no exception. 35 tables showcasing handmade arts, food, textile and wooden gift items were booked and committed to early.

The Craft and Artisan Fair is open from 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm on Thursday but come early if you don’t want to miss the best selection. Santa flicks the switch at 6:30 p.m. and the parade gets going about 15 minutes later.

Each year the Festival gets started with night time Light Up Parade organised by the Kinsmen Club. It starts at 6:40 at the top of 1st Avenue and continues to the Aggie Hall where the Grand Finale includes a massive fireworks display and the lighting of the Chuck Perrin Christmas Tree.

The Festival of Lights is so much more than a one evening celebration. People come from all over the Island to see and feel the spirit of “Christmas Town”.

The lights stay on and the visitors come every night until the 3rd week of January when the volunteers will once again show their commitment to this fantastic Ladysmith Community Event.

Just Posted

Tribal Journeys welcomed by Stz’uminus at Shell Beach

Paddlers came from various nations, including the Heiltsuk, Namgis, Hesquiaht, and Alberta Cree

Town adds public access lifering to improve water safety at Transfer Beach

The lifering is easy to use and includes instructions on the protective housing case for emergencies

Chemainus Harvest House still demands attention in summer

Food bank supplies dwindle with diminished donations

No shortage of water supply in Ladysmith despite stage three water restrictions

Water restrictions remain in place to service community in case of an emergency

Mamma Mia! smashes Chemainus Theatre Festival ticket sales record

Total expected to surpass 30,000 tickets before the show ends on Aug. 31

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Body, burning truck found near northern B.C. town

RCMP unsure if the two separate discoveries are related

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

UPDATE: West Kelowna fawn euthanized, not claimed by sanctuary

Gilbert the deer has been euthanized after a suitable home was not found in time

Nanaimo-Opoly will let board game players deal Harbour City properties

Victoria’s Outset Media and Walmart Canada partner on local edition of popular game

BC Wildfire Service warns wet weather no reason to be complacent

Fire risk currently low for much of B.C. compared to same time over last two years.

Bank of Canada lowers qualifying rate used in mortgage stress tests

Home sales softened last year after the federal government introduced new stress test rules for uninsured mortgages

Port Hardy RCMP cleared in arrest that left man with broken ribs, punctured lung: IIO

The IIO noted the matter will not be referred to crown counsel for consideration of charges.

B.C. man pleads guilty in snake venom death of toddler

Plea comes more than five years after the incident in North Vancouver

Most Read