Volunteers needed to take down lights in Ladysmith

A Festival of Lights takedown work party is being planned in Ladysmith for Jan. 22 at 9 a.m.

As we move further into January, the Festival of Lights Society is starting to think about taking down the 200,000 Christmas lights that decorate streets, buildings and trees throughout Ladysmith.

And that means the society is starting to look for volunteers.

A work party is planned for Jan. 22, and the Festival of Lights Society is asking for volunteers to help take down the lights.

If you can help, call 250-245-2263 or 250-245-5888 or meet at the 49th Parallel Grocery parking lot Jan. 22 at 9 a.m.

“We ask everybody to meet at the 49th Parallel parking lot, and we break people into groups, depending on how many people we have,” explained Duck Paterson, one of the Festival of Lights organizers.

The society is particularly hoping that anyone who has a bucket truck can bring it out to help take down decorations.

“It’s a help to get decorations off roofs,” said Paterson. “Bucket trucks are a big thing. If people know somebody who has a bucket truck and who can come out and play with us, it makes things go quicker.”

Paterson says they try to get the biggest jobs like Bob Stewart Park, Aggie bank and City Hall done while they have the volunteers and trucks.

Depending on how many volunteers show up and the weather, the volunteers are usually finished by about 1 p.m.

A free hot lunch is provided for volunteers courtesy of Ladysmith Family and Friends, and it is usually served around 10:30 or 11 a.m. at Aggie Hall.

People do not have to commit for the whole morning though, and the Festival of Lights Society is grateful for any time people can give.

“Everybody is appreciated,” said Paterson. “The thing with takedown is we don’t get as many volunteers as we do for putting them up because when they’re putting them up, they have have something to look forward to.

“The more people, the quicker it goes, and the more fun it is. It’s an opportunity to meet people, and even if it’s raining, it’s an opportunity for people to get together, talk and have a good time. You might get dirty, but it’s a nice hot lunch afterwards.”

The lights will be turned off Jan. 15, and volunteers will spend the next week knocking down rooftop decorations and piling them on the roofs so they can be taken down during the work party.

“If we don’t get bucket trucks, it’s a fairly big job because we have to bomb everything with ropes and ladders,” noted Paterson.

Paterson feels this year’s Festival of Lights has been very successful, as awareness continues to grow.

“This year, even though Light Up Day wasn’t the biggest day because of the weather, I think we’ve seen more people in town taking pictures and more bus tours,” he said. “Every year we say it’s the most successful, but I think that is true. People just get a real charge out of it every year. We’ve never had a bad one.”

This year will be the 25th festival, and the society is already making plans and thinking up new ideas.

“We’re already talking about what we can plan and what we can do to make it different,” said Paterson. “I don’t know if we can make it bigger, but we can make it different and make it exciting. It will all come down to how much money we can raise to make a bigger, more amazing show.”

Paterson says the festival society is coming up with ideas for some major fundraising activities, and the organizers are always looking for new sponsors to support the Festival of Lights.

“We do have plans,” he noted. “Every year, there are certain decorations that get refurbished, and, now especially, we’re talking about the 25th and how we can make it more exciting.

“We have ideas, we have plans; the bottom line will be how do we do fundraising to make it happen. We’re hoping to come up with maybe one or two distinct new decorations, and those cost a lot of money. If there’s anyone with any ideas or offers of assistance, we’d love them.”

The Festival of Lights began in 1987, focusing on the downtown core. Today, more than 200,000 shimmering lights attract thousands of people to Ladysmith.