Editorial – So Santa, what’s next?

Jeff Burgar

“High Prairie needs a bigger Light-Up!”

Well, that wasn’t exactly what High Prairie Community Beautification Association chair Chris Clegg said at the High Prairie & Area Chamber of Commerce meeting Sept. 20. But, it is sort of the drift as he talked about what the local association was doing these days.

For a bit of history, on the Light-Up, let’s recap: The Christmas Light-Up in High Prairie today is the big display of lights in the downtown civic square. After about six weeks of work by the Town of High Prairie Public Works department and volunteers [mostly town staff it has to be mentioned] the lights are turned on in a big ceremony the last Friday of November. If weather is good, more than 1,000 people come out for a looksee, watch the Santa Claus Parade, enjoy hot chocolate and cookies at the fire hall, and pictures with Santa. Afterwards, the lights stay on usually until mid-January.

These days, the Light-Up is spearheaded by Beautification. Years ago, the chamber of commerce thought it would be a good idea to promote Christmas shopping local in a bigger way.

So, along comes Moonlight Madness. That was good. Then it was decided more was needed. How about a big Christmas tree, plunked in what was then a vacant lot across the street from where Glamour and Gear now has their store? Arrangements were made for volunteer trucking in a really big spruce, digging a hole to “plant” it, stringing lights and hooking up power. It was a nice show.

A few years later it was decided to go bigger. There was a great big, gloomy “black hole” at the Golden Age Club and Town Hall. It was depressing, driving into High Prairie on a winter evening, and finding only a few lights. Rigging a big tree every year was a lot of work. So, why not use the trees already there in the civic square?

A presentation by the chamber to a skeptical town council got the idea moving. What about the power bill? What about wiring the lights? And the old buggy boo that constantly bothers anybody thinking of improving the community – what about vandalism?

Beautification was formed to help raise money for lights. Public Works signed on. The Light-Up was born! Every issue was addressed.

It has to be said, and this is important, High Prairie’s Light-Up was one of the very first in Alberta. That’s right. One of the very first of any size, including almost all cities. About the only other one of any mention was the Alberta government decoration at the Legislature Building. Seriously!

Of course, these days the idea has caught on right across the province. Everywhere, people are going all out. But High Prairie can say, it is one place that really made a show once upon a time. And actually, still does!

Winter nights in Canada are still long, dark and cold. Any idea that lifts moods, brightens spirits and chases away a bit of gloom is a winning idea.

Beautification and the chamber of commerce are both looking for those ideas. Coffee shop. Letters to the editor. Notes to our website at southpeacenews.com.

Let’s all get those positive thoughts percolating!

 

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