River Lights Winter Festival officially opens


By Joel Charron

Hundreds of Amherstburg residents gathered at Kings Navy Yard Park for the official opening of the River Lights Winter Festival Friday night.

Residents roamed the Kings Navy Yard Park while sipping on hot chocolate  awaiting the lights to be turned on.

River Lights administrator Karen Gyorgy thanked the 13-person committee, chairperson Rennie Rota, Anne Rota, Ann Bondy, Annette Zahaluk, Bruce Patterson, George Beckett, Janet Willoughby, Jenny Lajoie, Mark and Karen Usher, Terry Head, Ward York and Wayne Mickle.

“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.”

Gyorgy also thanked lead sponsor Scotiabank 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 gingerbread houses that are on display.

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

Gyorgy added the River Lights Winter Festival is “going back to the basics.”

“You can bring the family out and enjoy a wonderful evening,” she said. “You can stroll through the park and see all the amazing displays all as a family for free.”

Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce member Janet Willoughby told the crowd that the ACCOC was proud to partner with River Lights, stating 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.”


The lights shine brightly as the 2012 River Lights Winter Festival officially opened this past Friday

Essex MP Jeff Watson was also on hand to welcome the crowd to the River Lights Festival.

“Congratulations to this community for pulling together for what is going to be a fantastic festival,” said Watson. “This festival is kicking off one of the best times of the year.”

Essex MPP Taras Natayshak was also on hand to help kick off the festival with his son Drake in his arms.

“What a wonderful night for a beautiful festival,” said Natayshak. “There has been no brighter light shone than the community of Amherstburg. You guys have knocked it out of the park, whether it’s the bicentennial events or the Shore of Erie International Wine Festival or events like this evening, you have absolutely out done yourselves. What a wonderful event to connect with each other.”

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

“This truly is reflective of the people of our community,” said Hurst. “It’s people coming together, working together and getting an end result of what you see and what we have every year.”

Hurst said every year the crowd for the tree lighting ceremony gets bigger and bigger.

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

“This is a great start to the holiday season, I couldn’t picture anything else,” said Amherstburg residents Amy King, who brought her two-year-old daughter Kimberly.

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