Thousands gather in Victoria Park for Lighting of the Lights
It was a steady stream of people heading into Victoria Park over the dinner hour on Friday, and most filed to the bandshell for a little festive cheer.
The thousands on hand were also ready to add their voices to the Christmas tunes, adding an emphatic “hey” during the singing of “Jingle Bells.”
Just before 7 p.m., as the Doug Varty Band was singing, “When The Lights Come on at Christmas,” they flipped the switch and 75,000 lights filled the trees with colour.
There was a lighting of the lights last year but, deep in the throes of the pandemic, no crowds were allowed.
It was a disappointment for Amanda Angus and her family but they were happy to be back this year to resume a Christmas tradition.
"We used to come here when I was a kid,” she said. “We always came to lighting of the lights and went home and decorated the Christmas tree. So I thought it would be great to bring my daughter, and then my nephews are here. The whole family's here. It's a good time."
Crowds walk through Victoria Park after Lighting of the Lights ceremony in London, Ont. on Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. (screen grab from video by Gerry Dewan/CTV London)
Two-year-old Jordyn Antoine thought it was a good time, too. She bopped to the music and ran in happy circles. Her family was going to bring her last year but Sharlene Sterkenburg feels she was able to appreciate it more this year.
"She loves to dance. She loves people. She loves the lights,” Sterkenburg said.
About half of those gathered were wearing masks even though Mayor Ed Holder encouraged everyone to be masked, and that message was repeated from the bandshell stage.
Despite that, Holder says vaccines and the outdoor conditions put his mind at ease.
"One of the positives is that we're outdoors and what the Middlesex London Health Unit consistently tells us is that outdoor events are significantly safer than indoor events,” he said.
Holder says a lot of thought went into the decision open this event to the public, "Last year, sadly, it was easier to make that decision to not go because of the pandemic and the number of case counts were so great,” he said. :But, you know, Londoners have earned this. They deserve tonight."
And after the lights were all on many took the time to make the slow walk through the park to take it all in.