Opening ceremonies return for 38th annual Celebration of Lights

Celebration of Lights' display in Sarnia. 2018. (Photo from the Celebration of Lights' website.

Traditional opening ceremonies for Sarnia-Lambton’s Celebration of Lights will return this weekend after a three-year hiatus.

Opening ceremonies will begin on Saturday at 5 p.m. with a carol concert. Lights will be turned on at 6:15 p.m., followed by a fireworks display.

Although light displays were set up at Centennial Park during the past couple of holiday seasons, opening ceremonies have been put off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Board Chair Dean Holtz said they’re excited for the long overdue event to return.

Volunteers set up about 50 displays at the Sarnia park earlier this month.

“There are only four of our displays that are down for repair and they’ll be up next year, but everything’s in good order,” said Holtz. “We’re glad that we have Neptune’s castle back, it’s our second largest display so we’re super stoked about that.”

Saturday’s event is free to attend. Hot drinks and food will be available at the park along with activities.

“Santa’s going to make himself available for photos and we have a professional photographer that’s going to provide free photos for families,” said Holtz.

There will also be horse-drawn wagon rides from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

For those who are relatively new to the area, Holtz said the Sarnia-Lambton Celebration of Lights began with the late Harvey McMichael. The former Sarnia resident decorated his home on Oak Street “like no one else” in the 1980s and his family later donated the displays to be erected at the park during the holidays.

“As far as we know, we’re in our 38th year, it’s the longest-running, largest community volunteer-run lights display in Canada,” Holtz said. “Most other light displays that are our size or larger, either the municipality does it or they hire someone to do it.”

Light displays will remain on until the end of January.

Also, as part of the Celebration of Lights, a home lights competition is held every year. Competition entries will close on December 11 and an awards night will be held on December 19.