By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
At 7 p.m. on Nov. 27, southern Albertans including Coaldale residents will brave a cold winter’s eve to participate in the 17th Annual Country Christmas Night of Lights, a highly anticipated hometown event, which includes a parade and many other festive festivities for the whole family.
Even Santa Claus pays a visit to the community to meet with local kids.
“We hope the weather co-operates a little bit. That’s usually the big thing,” said John Pollemans, board member and parade chairman, from the Real Estate Centre in Coaldale. He added last year wasn’t as cold as he remembers years ago when it was -26 but the chamber still put on the event.
“The last couple of years were fairly cold. Weather definitely can be a little bit of a damper but people have always come out and supported it and anticipate it and come with floats. It’s definitely good to see when the people turn up,” Pollemans noted. Last year, because of the bitter cold temperature, the parade only had 12 floats registered.
Pollemans said there’s hot chocolate and cider, popcorn and the businesses put on additional activities throughout the illuminated evening. It takes quite a bit of volunteers, Pollemans said, to put on the annual event.
“Just like every other function we put on, it takes volunteers. It’s the same thing again — it’s tougher and tougher to find volunteers to put this on. We sure greatly appreciate the people who do help, as they come forward and give us a hand. Even if it’s an hour — everything helps. Usually, I need some help with the traffic control and there’s a lot of other things,” said Pollemans.
Each year volunteers also put together candy bags for the kids. “That takes a bunch of volunteers.”
Santa Claus will be at his usual place located beside the Sunny South News just off Coaldale’s main street and right after the parade kids can come visit with Santa and he hands out a bag of candy.
“We usually assemble about 1,000 bags of candy,” he added. The chamber purchases the candy and some is donated.
Interested volunteers can call Pollemans at 403-332-1952 or the chamber office at 403-345-2358.
“We always have a job for someone,” he said.
Pollemans explained the chamber gets in touch with Fortis to shut down the lights on Coaldale’s main street during the Night of Lights parade.
“We have total darkness. And, when you see these decorated floats coming down with all kinds of lights lit up, it’s definitely a thing to see. I don’t think there’s another night of lights around anywhere like this,” Pollemans said.
According to Pollemans, the town gets a lot of people coming from Lethbridge and surrounding area and Taber.
“It gets quite busy for a little while. A lot of people leave immediately after the parade is done and others hang out and some stay around,” he said.
Coaldale’s Night of Lights also features bonfires throughout the parade route on the town’s main street. “People can hang around the bonfires and warm up a little.”
The parade route starts at the hospital and turns onto 20 Avenue and heads to 19 Street and turns south and disperses from there.
Pollemans said the chamber would like parade participants to pre-register and registration forms are available online at coaldalechamber.com.
For a schedule of events check out the centre spread in this week’s issue. Coaldale’s Country Christmas Night of Lights will also include hayrides, an emergency services barbecue fundraiser, entertainment, a market and a turkey dinner.