LAC LA BICHE - Even though it’s normally a big event with a big tree, this year’s organizers of the Light Up The Night event in Lac La Biche didn’t want to see big crowds.
The annual Light Up the Night Christmas tree light up ceremony is exponentially toned down this year. An event that in past years has brought upwards of 700 people to the Lac La Biche downtown to see the giant tree lit by the junior citizen of the year following a nighttime parade with Santa at the helm, was replaced with a quiet, 15-person event on Monday night.
Already forced to cancel the parade, organizers opted to pre-tape the ceremonial lighting with a few notable guests. The video will be made available through several local groups in the days ahead.
There weren't swarms of people to see the1,600 feet of lights around the tree being turned on, but Dave Phillips, the Lac La Biche & District Chamber of Commerce’s President, says it was still important to keep up with the traditions that are COVID-19 friendly to keep the Christmas spirit alive.
“This year we couldn’t risk people gathering, so we had to cancel the parade, but there have been enough depressing things happening around us that we had to do the tree,” said Phillips. “People will associate the tree with past good times. They will remember the fireworks, the hot chocolate, the parade. The tree is a symbol of what we have done in the past, and it will encourage good memories from the past.”
For those wondering where the tree comes from every year, Phillips says every tree is donated from an area family and is labelled a problem tree, which means that it comes from someone who needs their tree removed.
“We use fully mature trees, so that means they are around 50 to 60 years old,” says Phillips, explaining that the removal helps the people where the tree came from. “Some have saved thousands of dollars on their home insurance because we removed the tree that was leaning against their house.”
The Christmas tree light up ceremony has been going on for nine years, and Phillips says it’s a time that brings families and the community together.
“I personally donated a tree one year, and I felt a sense of pride in being able to take part in community events like that,” he said. “It’s a tradition that is special in Lac La Biche, and we are hoping that next year we will be able to have the event be as big as it was in previous years.”
Fortis crews donate their time to string the lights on the tree. The tree will stay lit until the new year.
To see the link to the light up ceremony, see the digital version of this article at www.lakelandtoday.ca