For many people in (or from) Ladysmith, the Christmas season hasn’t started until they’ve been to Light Up.
Last Thursday, the Christmas season started in spectacular fashion when thousands of people came to town to celebrate Light Up and the beginning of the Festival of Lights.
Duck Paterson, a town councillor and member of the Ladysmith Kinsmen Club who emceed the event, says this year’s parade was the largest parade ever at Light Up. There were 76 entries, but many had multiple vehicles, and he figures there were more than 100 vehicles in total in the parade, which is sponsored by the Ladysmith Kinsmen Club.
“It was quite impressive,” he said.
During the parade, Paterson passed on apologies from Cumberland Ready Mix, as they were unable to bring their cement truck down this year because they were so busy.
Paterson was impressed that Spick & Sons Projects Ltd. came all the way from Powell River to bring their truck with all the lights and trees to Ladysmith just for the parade.
Paterson estimates about 15,000 people were at Light Up this year, down from the 22,000 to 23,000 that came last year. The weather may have played a factor.
Greg Edwards, vice-president of the Festival of Lights Society, feels Light Up was a spectacular night.
“The crowd was awesome as usual, we had new entertainers that were spectacular, and everyone seemed to love the parade,” he said. “It was great to see the smiles on the young folks’ faces and on the older folks as well.”
Edwards is thankful to everyone who helps make Light Up a success.
“To our fantastic sponsors, the Ladysmith and District Credit Union for the fireworks and to all of Ladysmith and all the folks and businesses who donate to us to help make it possible, we greatly appreciate them,” he said. “They make it extra special, and we appreciate them deeply for what they do for Festival of Lights and for the community.”
Edwards says they had even more volunteers than in recent years.
“Once again, the volunteers outdid themselves in helping this festival be the success it is,” he said.
Cliff Fisher, the president of the Festival of Lights Society, thought it was a really good night.
He was pleased with the amount of buses that came, and he says the craft fair was busier than previous years. Fisher also believes the new entertainers, VestaFire, got a lot of the younger people interested.
“There were a lot more LEDs in the system this year, and they sparkled when the lights went on,” said Fisher. “The fireworks were superb. They changed it around this year in their sequence. We’re really proud of that, and I think the Ladysmith and District Credit Union is very proud of that because they sponsor it.”
Fisher feels we got lucky with weather, as the rain mostly held off, and he says traffic flowed smoothly in and out of town.
“The parade was spectacular,” he added.
Fisher and Edwards are both leaving the Festival of Lights Society this year, and Fisher says the society is now looking for new people to get involved for next year’s Light Up.
Fisher has volunteered with Festival of Lights for seven or eight years.
“What really strikes me is how people in the community, you don’t even know them and sometimes you don’t even see their faces, they just handle something, they just join in,” he said. “The community gets involved and makes it happen. It’s just so much a part of the community.”
The lights will now stay on until the second weekend in January.