Festival of Lights brightens the night

The Sechelt Festival of Lights has set a record, with 35 parade entrants lighting up the evening of Dec. 1 for more than 1,000 onlookers who lined downtown streets. 

That level of commercial participation is a big jump from the previous record set by the 2017 parade, which had 22 entrants, and bodes well for an event that’s been through some dark days. 

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The annual Christmas season light-show-on-wheels was started in 2010 by the Coasters Car Club, which for three years successfully organized what they dubbed the Truck Parade. The event was then handled by various groups but started to flounder, bottoming out a few years ago when only three lit-up trucks took part. 

The Sechelt Downtown Business Association (SDBA) made changes, recruiting a new team of volunteers, including Kristi Swanson. 

“It was dying out,” Swanson said in an interview prior to this year’s festival. “So, in 2016 I jumped in. I have connections in construction, so I hit up a bunch of local contractors and said, ‘Hey get your truck or your excavator in it,’ and started getting everyone going.” 

It’s worked, with the event renamed the Festival of Lights and expanding its scope to include some pre- and post-parade events, organized by SDBA executive director Theressa Logan. There was free Christmas crafting for kids at Trail Bay Mall in the afternoon, while the festival ended with a fire-breathing performance on Cowrie Street by juggler Neezar. 

Judges for this year’s parade awarded first place to the entry from Saxon Contracting, second went to Popeye’s Lockers and Storage, and third to Swanson’s Ready-Mix. 

Before the parade, Sechelt parks manager Perry Schmitt started the evening off with another perennial ceremony, hitting the switch to turn on the Christmas lights at Rockwood Centre and down Cowrie Street. 

“It’s one of our best events of the year,” said Schmitt. “There are a lot of different people who pull together to make these things work. I really think that’s what makes communities work.”

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