The famous cement truck from Cumberland Ready Mix makes it down the parade route along First Avenue during the 26th annual Festival of Lights Light Up celebration Thursday

The famous cement truck from Cumberland Ready Mix makes it down the parade route along First Avenue during the 26th annual Festival of Lights Light Up celebration Thursday

Light Up 2013 attracts one of the biggest crowds

An estimated 22,000 to 23,000 people took in the Ladysmith Festival of Lights Light Up, and the parade was the biggest yet.

The 26th annual Ladysmith Festival of Lights Light Up celebration is being hailed as a huge success, with reports of one of the biggest crowds and of the biggest parade.

“We had perfect weather, large crowds and no accidents,” said Cliff Fisher, president of the Festival of Lights Society. “It was really neat. I’m so proud of it.”

Fisher says the Ladysmith RCMP has estimated that between 22,000 and 23,000 people converged on First Avenue to take in the Light Up festivities this year.

“That’s one of the largest crowds I’ve seen in my eight years being involved,” he said.

With a crowd that large, Fisher says they always have parking issues because they don’t have enough volunteers to control parking, but they had a lot of help from members of Ladysmith Fire/Rescue, who volunteered to control parking along Second Avenue.

Fisher noticed a lot more participation from the Ladysmith RCMP and Auxiliary Constables this year, and he feels that contributed to a “very well-behaved crowd.” He expressed gratitude to all the volunteers who helped control crowds and keep everyone safe.

“I thought it went really well,” he said.

Fisher was impressed by this year’s fireworks display, sponsored by Ladysmith and District Credit Union.

“The fireworks were spectacular — they always are, but when you have no wind and a clear night, wow,” he said. “Ron Burrows sure puts on a fantastic show.”

This year’s craft fair at Aggie Hall is being considered a success, and vendors are already asking to get on the list for next year’s fair.

“There were more people in there earlier, and they were buying,” said Fisher. “Lots of crafters are very happy.”

This year, Skellig performed for the first time as the downtown entertainment, and Fisher thought they did a great job of engaging the crowd.

This year’s Kinsmen Parade was the biggest one yet, according to Kinsmen member Duck Paterson.

There were 65 entries in this year’s parade along First Avenue, and participants put a lot of work into their floats.

“Some of the floats were just absolutely amazing,” said Paterson, who agrees with Fisher that this year probably attracted one of the biggest crowds. “The cement truck added more stuff this year. It was a good show.”

Fisher was impressed with the quality of the floats, and also with the behaviour of the children watching from the sidelines.

“I walked up and down often, and I didn’t see anything but smiles on kids’ faces and lots of food going into their mouths, lots of popcorn,” he said. “When Santa Claus flipped the switch to turn on the lights, no kid was not watching.”