For almost 40 years, the coziest corner in Innisfil has kicked off the holiday season with a celebration of the spirit of Cookstown found between friends, family and local businesses.
The annual celebration, Light Up Night, includes hours long celebrations where local shops open their doors to host the community for coffee, conversation, art and treats.
The whole thing culminating in the lighting of the village Christmas tree and the Santa Claus Parade.
Kim Turtcher, the 2019 chairperson for Light Up Night, has been working with the Cookstown and District Chamber of Commerce to produce the event for the last seven years.
“It’s a kickoff to our Christmas celebrations and encourages things for our merchants to kick off our official holiday season,” said Turtcher.
“The Light Up Night celebrations and the Santa Claus Parade draw attention to the historical village of Cookstown with merchants hosting an open house where we can celebrate together, as a community.”
“It’s a traditional community gathering where everyone can come out and get to know each other,” she continued.
With hundreds of people strolling down Queen Street for Light Up Night, it’s not hard to see the smiles from the local shopkeepers.
Jenn Halliday of The Halliday House & Co. has been hosting the 6x6 art exhibit in her store for the last three Christmas seasons.
“It’s always a fun night to get all the local folks in our community out, to see the store filled up with people. With the parade and the tree, it’s just a fun community evening,” said Halliday.
Halliday explained that the 6x6 art exhibit is “a small collection from some of our local artisans that put some of their work together to exhibit for a few weeks every November and December.”
As the evening progressed, the Town Crier, Steve Travers, called everyone around the massive, live Christmas tree, the focus of Light Up Night.
With thanks given to the Masonic Lodge for providing power for the lights, and InnPower for providing the equipment and skills to hang them for all to see, Travers then handed the event over to Innisfil Mayor Lynn Dollin.
“I’ve been to these tree lightings for 33 years. I was on the committee that planted that tree when it was this big (as she holds her hand below her shoulder), but this is the first time that I’m honoured to be here as your mayor,” said Dollin.
From there, Mayor Dollin lead the crowd in a countdown to the lighting of the Christmas tree.
With the lights beaming in the darkness and carolers leading the crowd in a rendition of “O Christmas Tree”, everyone soon took their place among friends and family for the 2019 Cookstown Santa Claus Parade.
As she walked to the start of the parade, Mayor Dollin described the beginnings of Light Up Night.
“Light Up Night has been a long-standing tradition, going back almost 40 years. It used to be called ‘Meet the Merchants’ where the local Scouts and Brownies would drop off invitations to all the residents to come out and meet the merchants,” said Dollin.
“There are great little stores. There’s a beautiful antique shop. There are lots of shops along the way that people can browse,” she continued.
“It has a wonderful feel to it. It’s a community where everybody loves everybody else. In Cookstown, you’re part of a family.”