To say the Esquimalt Celebration of Lights is a community event is a major understatement.
This kickoff to the Christmas season, which celebrates its 12th year with the parade followed by the public gathering at Esquimalt Plaza this Sunday (Dec. 3), continues to broaden its reach, says committee member and Esquimalt Coun. Meagan Brame.
“It’s free, it’s family friendly, it gets people so in the mood and it’s just such a celebration and a happy event. Everybody loves Christmas lights,” she says.
The Celebration is about more than just flipping the switch and illuminating the town with colourful lights. It’s about bringing together disparate parts of the community for a mutual fun time. “The partnerships that have grown out of Celebration of Lights have been amazing,” Brame says.
Volunteers for this event are enthusiastic and come from all walks of life, she adds, from the Esquimalt High leadership students to the members of the Songhees Nation who last year built a “longboat” for Santa Claus to ride in, with Songhees youth paddling him in to the plaza.
Local recording artist and jazz songstress Maureen Washington and her band are providing the entertainment this year, and will be accompanied for some of the traditional Christmas tunes by students from Rockheights middle school.
Attendees are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items for donation to the Rainbow Kitchen on Lyall Street, which provides free meals for people in need.
Merchants are on board big time for the event as well. Country Grocer provides the oranges and candy canes handed out on the night, and helps out the Esquimalt Lions with ingredients for the free hot dogs their volunteers cook up.
The parade and Christmas season kickoff was the vision of legendary Esquimalt resident and community booster Dino Fiorin, who passed away last year.
“[Because of that] it is even closer to our hearts as we go forward,” Brame says.
As a way to extend the atmosphere generated with the Celebration of Lights, the Township plans to produce a Christmas lights map featuring homes and other buildings lit up for the season, Brame says.
“Every year it gets stronger and fingers crossed, it doesn’t rain that night,” she says.
The parade starts at 5 p.m. sharp Dec. 3 from Canteen Road and travels along Esquimalt Road. The event runs until 7 p.m. For more information, visit esquimaltlights.ca.