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New light tours help community get holiday glow on

Published on

Cathy Dobson

A community-wide effort to add some cheer to a challenging holiday season is lighting up local streets and parks at a level unseen in recent memory.

“If there was ever a year we needed something to smile about, this is it,” says Scott Williams, the mastermind behind a series of holiday light tours in Sarnia-Lambton.

For the past few years, Williams mapped out driving routes for friends and family to see homes named the best decorated by the Celebration of Lights team.

This year, he was inspired to expand the concept after Crystal Boulton’s Haunted House Halloween driving tours became a huge hit.

“People asked me to put it out there and see who wanted to be part of a holiday light tour,” said Williams. “It took off like wildfire.”

Last year’s tour featured 20 houses. This year, 115 houses and 13 routes are mapped out on a Facebook group called Sarnia-Lambton 2020 Holiday Lights Tour.

The initiative took on added interest after Sarnia Transit cancelled its traditional lights bus tour due to pandemic restrictions.

It took Williams, a bank manager in Petrolia, at least 40 hours to create the routes on Google Maps. But the payback has been worth it, with the group swelling to 5,400 members by last week.

Residents on some routes are holding special events, including an outdoor concert Dec. 11 on Willowbrook Crescent, and numerous streets have surprise guest appearances.

One home on Brimwood Crescent offers a ‘selfie station’ for photos and others have kettles set out for Salvation Army donations.

In Point Edward, residents Emily Cadieux Webb and Sasha Gladwish hatched a plan to decorate the street cul-de-sacs that end at the pedestrian walkway bordering Canatara Park.

“Everyone’s at home this year and there’s not as much to look forward to,” said Cadieux Webb.  “Sasha and I talked about doing this for a while now and decided that this is the year for it.

“It’s such a good feeling to come together outdoors and have some fun.”

Cadieux Webb said she hopes it becomes an annual tradition for the village.

And in Centennial Park, where the Celebration of Lights has been held for 36 years, volunteers made sure the tradition of lighting up the waterfront with 100,000 bulbs continued despite the pandemic.

The lights were turned on Dec. 1 without the usual fanfare, but some special online projects are planned to ensure the community enjoys them, said chairman Dean Holtz.

“We decided that we’d try to get most of the displays up,” he said.  “With so much cancelled this year, we felt it was important.”

The park can be toured nightly from 5 p.m. – 11 p.m. with social distancing in mind. For those staying home, a virtual tour can be viewed on the Celebration of Lights Facebook page.

The Celebration of Lights is also holding its annual lighting competition to reward local residents for the best decorated homes. Submissions for the People’s Choice Award can be made online at www.celebrationoflights.com.

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