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Christmas displays in November?

Published on

Cathy Dobson

Festive gingerbread houses, tinsel-covered candles and a wire Christmas tree are already in Centennial Park to prepare for the 30th annual Celebration of Lights.

Yet nearby trees still sport green leaves and Remembrance Day hasn’t yet arrived.

Why are volunteers decking out the park for the holiday season so early?  What’s up with that?

It’s a case of strong organization to get the job done, says Cathie Blake, a member of the volunteer Celebration of Lights board.

Every year for three decades Centennial Park has been transformed for the holidays later in November. But this year, the crew got an early start because of new additions and complex technology, Blake said.

“Those (gingerbread) houses are heavy and it’s a lot of hard work to get them there,” she said. “This year, we have so much more to do, we had to get going.”

In particular, the Celebration of Lights has invested in new RGB colour changing LED lighting, low-volt bulbs that can be computer programmed.

“It will look like some of the displays dance to music,” Blake said. “As far as we know, this is the only festival in Canada with RGB lights. It’s going to be really great.”

Electrician Bill Suishan volunteered his time to teach high school and Lambton College students the intricacies of setting up the computer programs. They got to work this past weekend decorating the park with an estimated 600,000 lights.

The traditional set up day is Saturday Nov. 15. Everyone is invited to help out in Centennial Park and finish putting the light displays together. High school students can earn community volunteer hours if they want.

Then, on Nov. 21, the opening ceremonies attended by Santa take place at 6 p.m.

The lights will be turned on nightly from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. until Dec. 31.

All of this costs money and no government funding is involved, said Blake.

To help cover expenses, a family-style Christmas dinner with a mystery theme is planned for the Dante Club on Dec. 12.

Tickets are $50 and available at My Secret Garden (519-542-3301) or by calling the Celebration of Lights committee at 519-344-8422.

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