Blackfalds readies to light up for the holiday season

Haley Nelson gets a close-up look at the lights of the Town of Blackfalds' "pixel tree" in Tayles Spray Park during last year's Light Up Blackfalds event. This year's event runs on Saturday, Nov. 23. Ashli Barrett / jpg, LG

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Join the Town of Blackfalds as they flip the switch on one of the most spectacular Christmas light displays in central Alberta.

On Saturday, Nov. 23 the town will “Light Up Blackfalds” in more ways than one with a variety of festivities from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the Tayles Water Spray Park outside the Civic Cultural Centre.

It’s the second year in a row the event will start in the afternoon, with entertainment from Dancer’s Edge Studio and local school choirs promising to light up your  holiday spirit, followed by the physical lighting of the park.

Blackfalds Parks Superintendent Shaun Knowles, the main architect of the light display at the park, says the evening culminates about six weeks of set up work, done around regular parks staff duties.

“I just enjoy when you get a lot of people out here enjoying it,” he said. “Last year we did a Star Wars intro and everyone was cheering and clapping at the end of it. It’s nice to get that reaction to all the work you put into it.

“It’s the comments we get from them, too. All season long we get emails and people calling in saying they appreciate it and they’re bringing they’re whole family to see it. It’s nice to get that feedback because you know you’re not doing it for nothing – you’re doing it for the public.”

In 2017, they had over 54,000 bulbs and 771 strands of lights – approximately 3,800 feet or 1.15 km of cord – lighting up the park. Knowles estimates they’ve added around another 100 sets of lights, and are probably up to 1.5 km of cord since.

The goal, of course, is to always add a couple pieces every year, and this year they’ve added a large tree ornament “figure” that stands around 13 feet high, as well as additional archway leading into the park.

As always, the lights will by synced up to Christmas music, which Knowles programs using Lightorama software and 48 different channels, with another 32 on the park’s centrepiece in the “pixel tree,” which often has snowflakes or fireworks or other designs and patterns wrapping around it.

Lighting of the lights will take place at approximately 5:15 p.m. following speeches from sponsor Stantec, and dignitaries.

Hot chocolate will be provided by Tim Hortons, and fire pits will be on site to keep attendees warm. Free popcorn will also be served, and some outdoor games will also be available for the kids to play before the lights flick on.

Donations will also be accepted during the event with proceeds going towards the Blackfalds Christmas Bureau.

For those unable to attend, it won’t be your only chance to catch the light show. Lights will turn on 5 p.m. nightly through to early January.

Attendees and Blackfalds residents, however, should note that Gregg St. between East Ave. and Broadway Ave. will be closed in the afternoon until after the event. Parking can be found at the Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena, downtown or in nearby neighbourhoods.

Other Christmas events in the community include the annual Breakfast and Lunch with Santa Nov. 30 – events that usually sell out well in advance – and the CP Holiday Train which will roll into the community on Dec. 6 at 8:05 p.m.

The Blackfalds Christmas Market will also take place Dec. 7-8 from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Abbey Centre. Admission is by donation.

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