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Lac La Biche Light Up the Night shines on November 24

Lac La Biche County Junior Citizen of the Year Samantha Onciul will light the big tree

Lac La Biche County's Junior Citizen of the Year will be spotlighted, a giant tree will be shining from the community's downtown, and the Lac La Biche Light Up the Night downtown parade will be moving ... and mooing ... down Main Street on Thursday night.

"We have a cow for the parade too," said Heather Stromquist one of several people on a local volunteer board organizing the annual community event. 

The cow will be part of the local 4-H Club's entry in the parade that starts on Thursday night (November 24) at 6:30 pm.The parade is the kick-off to the festive season.

With more than 15 entries confirmed prior to Sunday's entry-deadline —  this year's procession includes the Coca-Cola truck carrying Santa. The Jolly Elf is expected to be out and about, mingling with local families, posing for pictures, making lists, checking them twice and listening to wish list requests. 

Citizen 'Sammy' will light up the night

The downtown parade route ends at the large tree standing at the Northern Lights Public Schools office in Lac La Biche. The giant tree, decorated with more than 2,500 colourful lights, will be officially illuminated by this year's Junior Citizen of the Year, Samantha "Sammy" Onciul.

The nomination process for the Junior Citizen award this year drew applications from across Lac La Biche County, Plamondon and even into the Cold Lake area.

Onciul, a J.A. Williams High School student, was the recipient of several nominations from community members involved in her school and community involvements.

"Samantha is a exceptional example of how to conduct yourself in a professional way at a young age. She is kind and sweet and hard-working," noted one of the nomination comments.

Onciul will ride with Santa in the Light Up parade and flick the switch to turn on the big tree lights. 

Lac La Biche Chamber of Commerce representative, and organizing committee member Dave Phillips says this year's big tree isn't "quite" as big as in previous years, but says it will still shine with the spirit of the season.  Last year's tree was a large 55-foot spruce donated from property owned by a local family, cut down by local company Tree Monkeys, transported to the school division office by Lac La Biche Transport, and set up with the help of local Fortis crews.

Smaller tree, less lean

Last year's big tree — secured firmly into a specially created steel tree stand — had a bit of a crooked tilt, with the top 20 feet leaning a little to the south. The tree and the tree stand were watched closely by engineers, and garnered a lot of community comments, likening it to a "Whoville" tree from Dr. Seuss' The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.  Phillips says the 2022 version should have no 'Whoville' leanings.

"The tree is considerably shorter than the one from last year, which pleases me considerably," he said.

Also pleasing to the organizing committee is the community support for the annual event. Several groups have offered to give away hot chocolate and treats along the parade route on Thursday. Others have donated services and equipment. The local Resource One Aboriginal Business Association office is also planning to serve up warm bannock. Downtown businesses are also expected to have some downtown promotions happening for the day and the event.

This year, the Light Up Night serves as the starting point of the Festival of Tree weekend that takes over the Lac La Biche Bold Center with dozens of raffle-ready Christmas trees, crafts, community events and family-friendly attractions.  See links to both events through the digital links at

Rob McKinley

About the Author: Rob McKinley

Rob has been in the media, marketing and promotion business for 30 years, working in the public sector, as well as media outlets in major metropolitan markets, smaller rural communities and Indigenous-focused settings.
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