Enlightening experience

By Joel Charron

Hundreds of tightly bundled residents braved the cold wind for the official opening of the River Lights Winter Festival Friday night.

Residents roamed the Kings Navy Yard Park while being courted by costumed carolers and sipped on hot chocolate for awaiting the lights to be turned on.

River Lights administrator Karen Gyorgy thanked the 13-person committee, which is chaired by Rennie Rota and assistant Jody Goslin.

“This is a very hard working group of volunteers who give freely of their time,” said Gyorgy. “Without their hard work, this evening would not happen.”


The lights shine brightly as the 2011 River Lights Winter Festival officially opened this past Friday.

Gyorgy also thanked lead sponsor BMO and the Amherstburg parks crew for their time and effort, stating their help was “very much appreciated.”

Residents were also encouraged to visit the “Warming House” in Toddy Jones Park to see the 55 gingerbread houses that are on display.

“You will be amazed at the talent we have in this town,” said Gyorgy.

Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce president Scott Deslippe told the crowd that the Chamber was proud to partner with River Lights, stating that the winter festival brings hundreds of people into town.

“The Chamber is very delighted to be a partner of River Lights,” said Deslippe. “It’s a great economic driver for the town. It brings a lot of people from now until Jan 1 into our beautiful town.”

Mayor Wayne Hurst called River Lights “a tremendous attraction” for the region and thanked all people involved.

“They have everything from gingerbread to jingle bells,” said Hurst. “Take the time to wander around and see the various lights and visit the warming house.”

Shortly after Hurst addressed the crowd, he led the countdown to light the tree and then followed the booming fireworks over the Detroit River.

“It’s a little cold and the wind is brutal but we couldn’t miss the tree lighting, it’s like the unofficial start of the Christmas season,” said Amy Ross, who brought her four-year old daughter Stacey and her two-year old son Colton.

Highlights of River Lights include various other events and concerts during the Christmas season. The Gibson Gallery presents “Holiday Art at the Gallery” from Dec. 1-11 while the Park House holds its annual Victorian Christmas Dec. 5. The North American Black Historical Museum hosts “Christmas at the Black Museum” Dec. 21 at 7 p.m.

The Amherstburg Doll House Museum celebrates its grand opening Dec. 11 from 2-4 p.m.

St. Thomas of Villanova Theatre hosts “An Olde Town Holiday Revue” Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. with performances by Music Express, the Catz Meow Dance Centre and the Lakeshore Academy of Fine Arts. Tickets range from $10-18 with seniors and youth rates included. An Afternoon Heritage Trolley Tour & Wine Testing runs Dec. 11 at 2 p.m. with tickets $12 per person or $20 per couple.

“It’s nice to see a crowd like this,” said Deputy Mayor Ron Sutherland. “This is one of the happening things in town that we are really proud of. I’m happy that we can be a part of this celebration.”

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