River Lights gearing up for seventh year of festivities



logo - River LightsBy Ron Giofu


October may have just started but plans are well underway for the seventh annual River Lights Winter Festival.

Festival administrator Karen Gyorgy said the event is being sponsored by ScotiaBank again this year.

“We’re really excited to have them back for their second year,” she said.

The opening night of the River Lights Winter Festival has been moved to a Saturday this year with the first night being Nov. 16 starting at 5 p.m. Gyorgy noted River Lights has partnered with the Essex Region Conservation Foundation (ERCF) as the latter is presenting the Super Santa Run that evening as well.

“We are hoping to have 500 Santas running through town to kick off our 45-day festival,” said Gyorgy.

The number of illuminated displays have expanded this year, she noted, with that also being exhibited opening night.

“We will have the municipal tree lighting, a holiday movie on a big outdoor screen in the Navy Yard Parkette, fireworks, free hot chocolate, food vendors and over 175 LED light displays shining brightly,” she said. “We are very, very fortunate to have ten new displays this year. The majority will be in Toddy Jones Park and will be themed from the ‘Cars’ movie. We cannot thank the businesses and individual displays enough.”

The gingerbread house contest is back on again this year with more entries hoped for by organizers. There were 55 entries last year.

“We’re hoping for 75 this year. That’s our goal,” said Gyorgy. “Again this year, we have amazing prizes. It is always so hard to choose winners from the talented houses we receive. In our mind, everyone that enters is a winner. This is a huge draw for our warming house to view the talent we have in our community. We will be offering free crafts on Friday and Saturday from 5:30-8:30 in the warming house.”

Gyorgy also said Santa Claus will be at the warming house following the annual Santa Claus Parade Nov. 23.

The “Tavern on the River” turkey dinner was sold out last year and Gyorgy said they are hoping for another successful turnout this year. The date for this year’s “Tavern on the River” is Nov. 22 at Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157.

“New this year is the Christmas House Tours. They will be Saturday, Nov. 30 and Sunday, Dec. 1,” said Gyorgy. “Tickets are available at the Gordon House, Sobeys, Country Bliss and the Village Shoppe. We have 11 homes and historical locations all exquisitely decorated by local businesses. Tickets are $20 for both days.”

Gyorgy said the Christmas House Tours are an example of keeping the River Lights Winter Festival fresh. She added the entire festival is good for all ages.

“It’s a family event,” said Gyorgy.

The committee is comprised of 14 volunteers, she added, and that the festival operates as a non-profit organization unaffiliated with other groups.

For more information, visit www.riverlights.ca, e-mail riverlights@mdirect.net or call 519-736-4642. River Lights also has an office in the Gordon House.

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