Scott Williams fondly recalls his family’s annual car rides to take in Sarnia’s holiday lights.
“I remember as a kid when you could go down the Parkway and the plants were all lit up and the city was quite bright,” he said. “But over the years, things seemed to be going dark.”
A few years ago, he started tracking the city’s most festive holiday homes and providing maps and routes to family and friends.
When the pandemic hit, he stepped up his game and launched the Sarnia-Lambton Holiday Lights Tour — a Facebook group where residents share festive photos and register their homes as drive-by destinations.
More than 100 participating properties are listed on about 15 maps that Williams has created.
“We are at 135 kilometres worth of routing this year in Sarnia-Lambton,” he said, pointing to routes in Corunna and Petrolia as well. Some homes offer ‘selfie stations’ for photo-taking and donation requests for local agencies. It’s even prompted some friendly competition between neighbours.
“There’s a place on Borden Street, I think they’ve got somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 lights on the house alone,” he said.
“And if you go to places like D’Andrea Trail — there’s actually only three registered participants on the map but the whole street is effectively lit up.”
At 177 Christina Street South, the Willis’ are collecting donations of hygiene products for the River City Shelter and Sarnia Native Friendship Centre.
“We have a blue ‘Who-ville’ post office that people can put stuff in and a donation box for money,” said Faith Willis. “We’ll also take anything like mitts, gloves, hats, and boots — anything to keep someone warm.”
The home was a popular stop on Sarnia’s Halloween Tour and has since been transformed into a Grinch-themed winter wonderland.
“It captures perfectly what I was looking to do with this,” said Williams, who puts the event together on his own time. It’s his way of giving back after a hard couple of years, he said.
“To me, it’s an easy thing to do, it doesn’t cost you anything but a little bit of time.
“It gets people out of the house and around our community — enjoying really what the season is for — because there’s far too much negativity in the world.”
Maps and routes can be accessed through Williams’ website, garageworkscanada.com and the Facebook group is called “Sarnia Lambton Holiday Lights Tour.”
Williams said he’s hearing from folks as far as London planning to make the drive down, as well as bus tours through the city.
“This might keep getting bigger and I’m OK with that,” he said. “Good karma is a great thing to have.”