It was a beautiful night in Cookstown on Saturday as the annual 'Light Up Night' was back from the Cookstown & District Chamber of Commerce, filling the streets with Christmas Spirit for the first time since 2019.
The evening featured a variety of activities including Letters to Santa at Mad Hatter’s Table, photos with Santa with Trish Beesley Photography, a tree lighting ceremony, a parade on the main street, and a Holiday Gift Market. The event brings the people and business community together in mutual celebration. This celebration continues the lineup of community-building events put on by the Chamber, like the Boonanza event last month.
Trish Beesley, president of the Chamber took the lead in organizing Light Up Night 2022. Each board member is responsible for leading one event each year.
"I chose Light Up Night, being the last event of the year," she said. "It's one person leading it up, but there are definitely many people and many hands involved making sure all the things happen. We are very excited!"
The evening began with the tree lighting beside the Masonic Lodge. Beesley thanked Cookstown Home Hardware for providing many of the lights and InnPower for installing them.
The ceremony was attended by many local dignitaries including MP for Barrie-Innisfil John Brassard, Mayor Lynn Dollin, and Deputy Mayor-Elect Kenneth Fowler. The town crier, in full Victorian uniform, rang the bell to gather everyone around the tree.
”It shines a light on one of the more distant corners of Innisfil. It's a great sense of community in the area, every year we gather, and all the local businesses open up to enhance the holiday spirit," said Fowler. "The tree, as big as it is, started out very small 20 years ago and it has been here for every tree lighting to date."
Brassard added that it is a great family event.
"It's a traditional event, but one thing that has changed is the crowds, every year the crowds are getting bigger."
The parade procession began at Home Hardware and ended at the Cookstown Library. There were 22 floats in this year's parade, the most in the event's history. Innisfil Fire had their trucks lit up with a youngster driving a mini fire truck, leading the way. Dance clubs, the Antique Market, A&W, InnPower, Georgian Bay Steam Show, Innservices, and others filled out the lineup of floats.
There were trains decked out with lights and decorations hauling passengers dressed up in holiday garb. Candy canes were distributed by parade participants to the smiling and appreciative children along the roadway. The Orthodox church added their brightness to the main street with a nativity scene and a lit-up tree of their own. There were snow princesses, Frosty the snowman, and what would Christmas be without the star of the show, Santa himself? Santa and his reindeer were the hit of the parade with lots of cheering and shouting from the crowd along the roadway.
There was no shortage of lighting for Light Up Night with people of all ages dressed up in Santa’s helper suits, Christmas light necklaces, and others with glowing headbands and wristbands.
Beesley credited the town and police for assisting to ensure a safe and successful event.