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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Kingsville kicks-off Christmas season with annual Fantasy of Lights festivities


by Sylene Argent

The Town of Kingsville was abuzz on Saturday, as area residents gathered to enjoy the kick-off of the 29th annual Fantasy of Lights Festival. 

The annual festival offers something for everyone to enjoy, from a parade to a train ride around Lakeside Park that provides a unique view of the many lit structures set up around the park to celebrate the holiday season.

On Saturday, the festival kicked-off with a parade that featured over 80 floats.

  Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos said this was a record-number of floats, and that the parade attracted an amazing number of attendees, partially due to the event’s reputation as a top-notch attraction and also to the great weather provided.

  “The crowd we saw lining the streets, from Jasperson all the way to the [Lakeside] Park, was just so impressive,” Santos said.  

  Santos was thrilled to host the parade traditionally, as last year’s event was converted to a reverse, drive-through event, due to the pandemic.

  “Having the opportunity to have a traditional event and parade was so very welcome,” Santos said, adding having the parade put on by the community for the community, the support could be felt from businesses, special events, and residents, and community groups.

  “They really lit up our streets, which was exciting to see.”

  Following the parade, the public was invited to Lakeside Park to enjoy the official flipping of the switch, which Santos oversaw with the help of Santa and Mrs. Claus. The trio, during a ceremony, turned on the switch that lit up the hundreds of lighted structures set up around Lakeside Park.

  Santos said there are a few new additions added to the display this year, including a Christmas lights greenhouse at the entrance – which offers a tunnel for attendees to walk through – and some retrofits to see. The original Colasanti’s bird, which was made for the inaugural year of the festival, was re-strung for this year’s event.

  “The colours are just so amazing on it. It is a must see,” he said.

  These lighting structures will light up the night until January 5, and will be available for the public to enjoy them via a brand-new electric Kingsville Express Train that tours around the park on select nights.  

  “The Kingsville Express Train took its first voyage during the parade,” Santos noted, adding he stepped in as the train’s engineer for the event. The Town, he added, is grateful for the many sponsors who secured this new piece of equipment for residents to enjoy. “It is going to be a great treat for those coming to take a ride on the weekends at Lakeside Park.”

  Wrapping up the festivities on Saturday evening, those in attendance enjoyed a fireworks display.

  Other Fantasy of Lights activities planned include the Christmas Artisan Market, to take place December 4 and 5 at Lakeside Pavilion, Paws and Claus on December 7 also at Lakeside Pavilion, Pancake and Decorate breakfast from Santa that will offer a take-away package for families on December 11 from the Kingsville Arena and Carnegie Arts & Visitor Centre, and the Fill a Fire Truck for Toys for Tots with Kingsville Fire at Red Apple on December 11.

  Kingsville residents and businesses with an address in Kingsville, Cottam, and Ruthven are able to participate in the “Light up the Town Competition.”

  According to the Town of Kingsville website, the resident category of the competition is presented by the Williams Light Show, in memory of Lois Williams. The winner will be selected by people’s choice. 

  The winner will be presented on Friday, December 31.

  The business category is presented by Migration Community Hall and the Town of Kingsville. A judging panel will select the winner, and will vote on Saturday, December 18.

  The winner in each category will have their name/business and year engraved on an ornament within a Christmas tree plaque, made by Kingsville District High School TechZone. The plaque will be displayed during the holiday season at Town Hall. The winner will also have an ornament for their decoration and imagine the bragging rights for the year.

  For more information about Fantasy of Lights activities, log onto: kingsville.ca/en/explore-and-play/fantasy-of-lights.aspx

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