Treetops are wrapped with colourful lights at Red Deer City Hall Park. (Photo by Lana Michelin/Advocate staff)

Treetops are wrapped with colourful lights at Red Deer City Hall Park. (Photo by Lana Michelin/Advocate staff)

Red Deer’s City Hall Park light display makes a splendid impression

It’s the best in Alberta, says an Edmonton blogger, who’s compared municipalities

The shimmering spectacle in Red Deer’s City Hall Park is the best municipal Christmas light display in Alberta, says a social media influencer who’s travelled the province.

“It’s so bright and lit up, it’s really cool. We have nothing like that in Edmonton,” said Lincoln Ho, of Alberta’s capital city.

Ho’s travelled from Calgary to High Level to check out the seasonal sparkle during this holiday season and the last one — and found nothing as eye-catching as our City Hall Park.

Considering all the decorations throughout Red Deer’s downtown, including a festooned Ross Street Patio, this central Alberta city really dresses for the holidays, said the blogger.

“Red Deer should not sell itself short: You have a very well designed city with lots of neat places and hidden gems.”

Ho is particularly impressed that the City of Red Deer ran a special, decked-out holiday bus through different neighbourhoods in town from Dec. 10-18, spreading seasonal cheer.

“That’s the kind of thing they do in Chicago and New York, where they have subway trains lit up…

“It would be nice to see,” added the Edmontonian, who hopes to return to Red Deer over the Christmas season. Meanwhile, he’s posting about our downtown Christmas lights on Twitter and other social media platforms to his 35,000 followers.

The glowing lights “are just beautiful,” said Rene Rondeau, executive-director of Tourism Red Deer, who isn’t surprised the 2021 display is more bountiful than last year’s. “They’ve always done a great job.”

Red Deer’s Parks team have taken extra effort to brighten the downtown during the pandemic. But “we also want to get better and better every year, so we keep adding to it,” said Red Deer’s Parks foreman Joe Pelz.

He starts scouting around for new Christmas decorations early in the fall, before other buyers snap them up. This year, new wire trees, featuring colourful lights and tinsel, were placed along the row of flags in front of City Hall. And lights have also been wrapped higher up on trees than in 2020.

A lift truck was brought in, since there were no snow banks to surmount, said Pelz, so workers were able to reach higher up than when they used ladders.

While there’s no grand design scheme, Pelz aims to make each new Christmas display in City Hall Park different that the previous year’s. “We change the colours of lights on trees so that nothing is ever the same,” he said.

To passing motorists, it seems the blaze of lights appears overnight. But in fact, the decorating begins on Oct. 1 and is a onerous process. It requires wrapping 4,000 light strings around dozens of bushes and trees.

Eight parks workers spend nearly six weeks doing this. “They are very sneaky, like Santa’s elves,” and largely go unnoticed, joked Parks superintendent John Eastwood.

When the switch is finally pulled on Nov. 20, some 350,000 bulbs pop on and cast colourful shadows along snow-dusted paths in City Hall Park.

Creating something special and memorable for residents is the goal, said Eastwood — as well as drawing people to enjoy shops and restaurants in the downtown, including the all-season Ross Street Patio, and Capstone area.

Without too many other special activities bringing people together, because of the pandemic, Eastood and Pelz enjoy seeing individuals and families walking amid the holiday splendor in City Hall Park. They regularly receive great feedback from the public.

The lights will stay on daily from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. until at least mid-January, said Pelz — and then the six-week process begins to take down and store the decorations until next year.

 

A spectacular light display attracts families nightly to Red Deer City Hall Park. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff)

A spectacular light display attracts families nightly to Red Deer City Hall Park. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff)

A row of colourfully decorated trees line Red Deer City Hall Park. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff)

A row of colourfully decorated trees line Red Deer City Hall Park. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff)

Music and synchronized lights attracts residents of all ages to a giant Christmas tree beside Red Deer City Hall. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff)

Music and synchronized lights attracts residents of all ages to a giant Christmas tree beside Red Deer City Hall. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff)