T’was the weeks before Christmas, and down by the bay, not a carol was heard, throughout night or day.
A compromise has been reached for a dispute at the Celebration of Lights that threatened to prune the tunes and kybosh the carols.
The annual lights and music in Centennial Park fell silent last week after someone complained to City Hall the music was too loud.
“It was hard to believe,” said chair Cathie Blake-Baker. “Somebody either doesn’t like the event at all or they just want something to complain about.”
Sarnia’s noise bylaw doesn’t allow amplified sound in parks after 8 p.m. unless council or the CAO grants an exemption.
The Celebration had never sought an exemption in the past.
For five straight nights leading up to the complaint, organizers discovered each of six music-playing displays had been unplugged, forcing a volunteer to return and reset the system, Blake-Barker said.
The music is synched with the lights and requires programming through a control unit, a process that takes about two hours.
After the fifth unplugging, tech leader and former chair Bill Suisham reinforced the cable connections and that’s when the complaint came in, Blake-Baker said.
Organizers sent a written request for a noise bylaw exemption on Dec. 3 and CAO Margaret Misek-Evans granted it the next day.
The compromise allows amplified music until 11 p.m. while the Celebration of Lights has agreed to turn down the volume.
Staff will monitor complaints and Sarnia Police have been made aware of the exemption.
Blake-Baker said she hadn’t received a single complaint about music in her 12 years with the event.
“We do this because we love Christmas and we love the city,” she said.
The lights – and music – run daily from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. until Jan. 1, with extended hours on New Year’s Eve.