Twelve Days of Christmas adds to the glow at the 2018 Airdrie Festival of Lights
It’s been 15 years since a new display was installed at the Airdrie Festival of Lights and AFOLS Coordinator Michelle Pirzek is very excited.
“Our new slogan “glowing and growing” couldn’t be more apt!” she said.
The brand new 12-piece display – “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is a n animated light display that will spread over 150’ of Nose Creek Park.
But that’s not all that’s been added – this year enough budget was available to include carolers for the Townscape display, an animated ice-skating bear to Winter Wonderland and animated penguins for the Penguin Village.
Animated lights add an element of wonder to a walk in the park, and the AFOLS board is committed to keeping that glow running for years thanks to two back-to-back successful seasons, 2016 and 2017. It wasn’t such a rosy picture just prior to the 2016 season when the AFOLS board was facing the difficult option of closing down permanently. But the community rallied, Pirzek explains, In 2016 we had a really cold season that resulted in 13 out of 31 days closed. (The park does not operate the activities or man the park with volunteers when the weather is below -20) “But the craziest thing happened,” Michelle said, “People would still drive into the park to leave us a donation even when they couldn’t walk the pathways because of the biting cold.”
The donations kept pouring in, it was the community speaking loud and clear that they wanted the lights to keep glowing.”
The Festival is enjoying popularity with sponsors and these increased funds are a welcome relief as the board which invested $50,000 in electrical in 2016 is now preparing for a full upgrade of the master electrical grid (AFOLS owns the electrical) in Nose Creek Park to the tune of $250,000 in the next two years. While a lot of the money will come from grants, the AFOLS is still looking at footing the cost of 50% of this major investment in the park. And its thanks to community minded businesses like Common Ground Electric Inc.’s, Brad Campbell who approached the AFOLS wanting to be engaged that this project has a team leader to make it happen.
“We really can’t thank our corporate partners like Chinook Gate who are in their second year as our title sponsor, GeoMetrix for our trains and sponsors like Vitreous, Propak and Davis Chev who have been with us for five years or longer!,” Pirzek adds.
The Lights, in their 23rd year, are not an inexpensive endeavor – it costs around $100,000 each season to keep the lights on and all the trains and tent and activities running smoothly. And most importantly 30% of that budget goes right back into the community to the volunteer fundraising groups and organizations like the Lioness Hamper program, Community Links, Nose Creek Valley Museum, Airdrie & District Victim’s Assistance, 100 Women Who Care, and many more.
More good news for the Festival is volunteer support is up. “Groups recognize the return on their time because we give share the proceeds, and we are also seeing more corporate volunteer groups; we keep hearing what a great team building experience it is, and that makes us very happy.”
Aside from the bright new lights, visitors to the park will be able to enjoy (weather permitting) a great line up of entertainment in the Ambition Performing Arts Tent featuring dance, live music, high school bands, choirs, carolers and performances by Airdrie’s Ghost Walk ~ Christmas Edition and Nose Creek Players.
The CP Holiday Train makes a stop on Dec 11 at 5:45 pm featuring Terri Clark – this is a fundraiser for the Airdrie Food Bank so visitors are encouraged to come for the show, bring a food donation and then stay for the lights and stroll the park.
The Festival of Lights is open every night Dec 1-31 from 6pm – 9 pm. And still after 23 years, there is no admission charge or parking fee – the board simply asks for donations to keep the glow growing.
For more information visit airdriefestivaloflights.com or follow us on social media @airdrielights
The 2018 AFOL Board:
Mark Battle President
Rob Pirzek Vice President
Barbara Easthom Treasurer
Lori Helston Secretary
Michelle Pirzek Coordinator
Roger Helston Director
Liz Wood Director
Casey Waller Director
Kristen Wallace Volunteer Coordinator
Todd Brand – Sponsorship
airdrielife is donating a $100 gift card to your favourite Airdrie store for selfies tagged with #sharetheglow #airdrielife