Sarah Van Grinsven

River Lights says thanks to Park House with donation

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Park House Museum has been an active partner in this year’s River Lights Winter Festival and the latter is now saying thanks.

River Lights co-ordinator Sarah Van Grinsven presented a cheque for $500 to Park House curator Stephanie Pouget-Papak last Friday morning. Van Grinsven explained the donation was due to the fact the Park House has worked with River Lights on such events as the Holiday House Tours.

“Every year, the house tours committee chooses a community based organization,” said Van Grinsven. “We choose an association that could benefit from the exposure.”

With three other homes on the Holiday House Tours being in the vicinity of the Park House Museum, the museum was chosen to be the “tea room” on this year’s tour.

River Lights co-ordinator Sarah Van Grinsven (left) presents a $500 cheque to Park House Museum curator Sarah Van Grinsven.

River Lights co-ordinator Sarah Van Grinsven (left) presents a $500 cheque to Park House Museum curator Stephanie Pouget-Papak.

“This year, we chose the Park House, which was perfect,” said Van Grinsven.

Pouget-Papak said the money will be put back into the programming the Park House Museum offers. They currently still offer a Victorian Christmas exhibit with students that pass through the museum getting lessons from the Ontario curriculum, she added. A fur trade exhibit is planned for the spring, Pouget-Papak added.

The River Lights’ Gingerbread Warming House closes for the season this Sunday and Van Grinsven said the snow on the ground makes it a better experience.

“The lights look extra fabulous when snow is on the ground,” she said. “We want people to take advantage of it.”
The Park House closes for the season Dec. 21 though is open by appointment in January and February.

“Working with River Lights has been great,” said Pouget-Papak. “We’re building partnerships to make our community stronger.”

Van Grinsven agreed that the partnership has been a good one, adding the Park House was also a part of River Lights’ “Downtown Holiday Nights” at the beginning of this year’s festival.

River Lights officially open for tenth anniversary year

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

For the tenth consecutive year, Amherstburg is shining thanks to the River Lights Winter Festival.

The River Lights Winter Festival started Friday with the “Downtown Winter Nights” event that featured a scavenger hunt at local businesses, ice sculpting, horse-and-buggy rides, a downtown market and more and spilled over into Saturday night when the Super Santa Run, tree lighting and fireworks were held.

A group of carolers entertain near the Navy Yard Park parkette Nov. 18.

A group of carolers entertain near the Navy Yard Park parkette Nov. 18.

“This is River Lights tenth year. We are so excited,” said River Lights co-ordinator Sarah Van Grinsven.

Van Grinsven was happy to see the large turnout for Saturday night’s tree lighting ceremony as was Ian MacRobbie, general manager of Enbridge. Enbridge, who developed the Amherstburg Solar Farm, is the presenting sponsor of River Lights for the third straight year. He noted the lights are solar powered.

Ruthanne and Melissa Vuk were volunteering at the Park House Museum during the opening of River Lights.

Ruthanne and Melissa Vuk were volunteering at the Park House Museum during the opening of River Lights.

“It’s a great fit for us,” said MacRobbie, noting it is a Top 100 festival in Ontario.

Nicole Fogarty from Festivals and Events Ontario (FEO) believed River Lights provides a “perfect holiday setting” in Amherstburg. She pointed out that events like River Lights take more than just great ideas, but people who “roll up their sleeves” and put the work in to make it happen.

The fountain in the King's Navy Yard Park parkette is lit up this year for River Lights.

The fountain in the King’s Navy Yard Park parkette is lit up this year for River Lights.

The Great Grocery Giveaway winner was also announced. That partnership between The House Youth Centre and Sobeys raised $10,000 for the House. Activities co-ordinator Rebecca Vander Vaart announced that Gail Cecile won the top prize.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo also pointed out that 2016 is the tenth anniversary of River Lights.

“That’s just awesome,” he said.

Town crier Frank Gorham welcomes the public to the tree lighting ceremony Nov. 19.

Town crier Frank Gorham welcomes the public to the tree lighting ceremony Nov. 19.

DiCarlo thanked Enbridge and all of the sponsors and supporters of the festival. He also pointed out the partnership between River Lights organizers and town departments to ensure the lights and activities get set up.

“Thanks for making Amherstburg shine,” said DiCarlo.

River Lights Winter Festival starts this weekend

Special to the RTT

Ten years and the River Lights Winter Festival is shining brighter than ever!

Opening ceremonies will kick off with wonder and wishes for a prosperous, peaceful and mindful holiday season at the historic towne square in downtown Amherstburg.

A new commemorative display adorning the fountain is installed for the tenth year anniversary.  A larger than life Frosty visits during Saturday’s outdoor, classical movie “Frosty the Snowman” encouraging visitors and residents to make their 2016 wishes at this magical scenery. The ERCA Super Santa Run at 5 p.m. preludes the popular tree lighting count down at 6 p.m. followed by fireworks along the Detroit River.

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Partnering with Anderdon Public School marching band, Walkerville and General Amherst High School arts students add youth and spark to the program. Snap a family picture at the new Victorian photo mural or with the hilarious stilt guys where kids of all ages will undoubtedly be in for a treat.

“But that’s not all! The beautifully handcrafted gingerbread houses on display at the Gingerbread Warming House at Toddy Jones Park are an attraction in of itself”, says Sarah Van Grinsven. “Amherstburg is one of those places that makes you feel like you’ve stepped into a Christmas card from the past, and the 10th year celebration will be very special,” she adds.

For more information, visit www.riverlights.ca or like them on Facebook.com/RiverLightsConnection

“Decorating Divas” team with Canadian Tire

 

 

By RTT Staff

 

For the third consecutive year, the River Lights “Decorating Divas” were at Canadian Tire making things more festive.

The Divas decorated three trees this year at the store with River Lights co-ordinator Sarah Van Grinsven pointing out it is done in conjunction with the Holiday House Tours, one of the events that is part of the River Lights Winter Festival.

In return for decorating the Christmas trees, Canadian Tire makes a donation to the Holiday House Tours, she added.

“We, in turn, decorate a home for the house tours with Canadian Tire products,” she added.

The River Lights “Decorating Divas” joined Canadian Tire staff in decorating three trees at the store last Monday. The Holiday House Tours are coming Dec. 3-4 and one of the ten homes will be decorated with items all found at Canadian Tire in Amherstburg.

The River Lights “Decorating Divas” joined Canadian Tire staff in decorating three trees at the store last Monday. The Holiday House Tours are coming Dec. 3-4 and one of the ten homes will be decorated with items all found at Canadian Tire in Amherstburg.

The River Lights Holiday House Tours are Dec. 3-4 from 1-6 p.m. each day. Van Grinsven said tickets are $25 and on sale at the Gordon House, Sobeys, Pied-A-Terre, the Village Shop and Park House Museum. There will be ten stops on the tour this year with mainland waterfront properties being the focus.

River Lights gets underway this weekend with the Downtown Holiday Nights starting Friday night and the tree lighting Saturday night. The latter follows the Super Santa Run, which starts at 5 p.m. on downtown streets.

For more information on the Holiday House Tours or River Lights in general, call 519-736-4642 or visit www.riverlights.ca.

River Lights to begin with “Downtown Holiday Nights” Nov. 18

 

By Ron Giofu

The River Lights Winter Festival is fast approaching with it being kicked off with “Downtown Holiday Nights” Nov. 18.

The event is a joint initiative between River Lights and the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC) and is sponsored by Libro Credit Union.

River Lights administrator Sarah Van Grinsven said one of the highlights will be the “12 Days of Christmas” scavenger hunt that local businesses are participating in. That runs Nov. 18 from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. and Nov. 19 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Participants will take their entry card to the 12 participating business and get it stamped once they find the “theme” in each location. The winner will receive prizes from local businesses valued at $600 with the victor being selected at the Nov. 19 tree lighting ceremony.

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“This is big for the businesses,” said Dorothy Kryworuchko Languedoc, a director with the ACOC and owner of Pied-A-Terre Home Décor & Gifts. “It’s supporting local businesses. It’s huge.”

ACOC president Carolyn Davies said businesses are excited about the scavenger hunt, stating it will bring people into downtown businesses and have a lot of fun looking for the scavenger items in the process.

Half of the businesses were signed up right away, Davies added. Most of the spots have been filled since then.

“They are enthusiastic,” said Davies.

The ACOC president said people are not obligated to purchase anything at the businesses but said businesses can add a second incentive for the public if they see fit.

Other components of the “Downtown Holiday Nights” include ice sculpture artists, a holiday market featuring local artists and locally grown food, vignettes, a pair of horse-and-buggy operators, candlelight tours of the Park House Museum, and Father Christmas telling stories of St. Nicholas at the Commissariat with the Provincial Marine holding an encampment outside as well.

“It’s going to be a fun evening just before the tree lighting,” said Van Grinsven. “It’s a great partnership between River Lights and the Chamber to get the holiday season started for adults.”

Van Grinsven added Libro stepped forward because they wanted to help the program. Cathy Thomas, branch manager of the Amherstburg location, said Libro likes giving back to the community and enjoys “spreading prosperity” in southwestern Ontario.

“Working with River Lights and the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce is the cherry on top for the end of the season,” said Thomas. “It’s part of giving back to the community. We’re looking forward to it.”

“We’ve created a fantastic tradition,” added Van Grinsven. “It’s perfect for the holidays.”

The addition of the “Downtown Holiday Nights” to the busy River Lights agenda is also a night to see what businesses in the downtown core have to offer, Van Grinsven stated.

“It’s really adding to the atmosphere of what Amherstburg has,” she said.

“We really want to have businesses go the extra mile,” added Kryworuchko Languedoc. “It really adds to the ambiance (in downtown Amherstburg).”

The entire River Lights Winter Festival runs from Nov. 18- Dec. 30. For more information, visit www.riverlights.ca, call 519-736-4642, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/riverlightsconnection or follow them on Twitter at www.twitter.com/RiverLights.