Don’t try telling Jerry Baljeu there’s a shortage of Christmas lights to enjoy in Sarnia this year.
Once again, the loyal Celebration of Lights fan has devised a driving tour so residents and visitors alike can spend an evening or two admiring the bright lights of the season.
Baljeu’s 2015 tour is a whopper; a full 57 kilometres of driving he says takes about four hours from start to finish.
For detailed instructions and addresses, see his Facebook page, ‘Sarnia’s Christmas Lights Tour, 2015.’
It takes in most city neighbourhoods, with the Twin Lakes area and south side of Michigan Avenue near Giffel Road particularly noteworthy, Baljeu said.
“I still love (Centennial) park. It’s gorgeous even if it is condensed this year.”
Centennial has been the focal point of Sarnia’s Celebration of Lights for 31 years. The 2015 version is smaller because no hydro was available this year at the north end of the park, said co-ordinator Cathie Blake.
Blake is one of a handful of volunteers determined to keep the Celebration alive despite funding challenges, manpower shortages and the cost of hydro. Even the loss of much of the park didn’t stop the board of directors from forging ahead, she said.
“Sometimes you feel like quitting,” she admitted. “But we all work so hard at it and we love Christmas and Sarnia so much.
“We’re not quitters.”
Her hope is that next year power will be restored to the park’s north end and the light displays won’t be as limited. Meanwhile, the Celebration of Lights committee encourages residential participation by holding a contest for the best decorated homes.
This year’s first-prize winner is Gerald Ryan of 8 Fairview Blvd in Froomfield. He won $300 for his effort. Dario Liegghio of 874 Maxwell St. won second prize of $200, and George Laird of 1237 Echo Rd. placed third and took home $100.
“We have had a great deal of volunteer support,” Blake said. “There’s no way we could do it without all the volunteers who come out to help.”
Baljeu said he and his wife, Debbie, devise the driving tour for the fun of it and so people can see “the best in the city.”
“There are some black areas as you drive around where no one has decorated,” he said. “But there are still some really nice homes that are very beautiful.”
HOME CONTESTANTS, CELEBRATION OF LIGHTS
SARNIA: 385 Brock St., S.; 143 College Ave., South; 407 Confederation St.; 874 Maxwell St.; 821 Retlaw Dr.; 1237 Echo Rd.; 280 Laurentian Cres.; 620 Esser Cres. – (Tune to 87.9 FM for audio); 99 Hastings Cres.; 369 Fanshawe Dr.; 256 Gemstone Crt.; 73 Turner Dr. POINT EDWARD: 725 Charles St. FROOMFIELD: 8 Fairview Blvd., 14 Fairview Blvd. CORUNNA: 471 Colborne St.