The much-loved White Rock Festival of Lights has been postponed until Dec. 7 due to the recent tightening of public health orders.
And the future of this year’s event, much like every aspect of 2020, is uncertain.
The annual event, initially scheduled to start Nov. 28 and be featured in White Rock’s Memorial Park, was to be a scaled-up version of last year’s festival, stretching from the white rock to Oxford Street. The festival, which was to include three 30-foot artificial trees, was scheduled to run until Jan. 9.
Province-wide provincial health orders, in place from Nov. 19 until Dec. 7, suspend all in-person events and community-based gatherings.
While the plan was to decorate a pathway where residents and tourists could walk without stopping, event founder Gary Gumley said the Ministry of Health has classified it as an in-person event.
What remains unknown is what, exactly, happens after Dec. 7. If the provincial regulations expire, then the event can proceed. If the restrictions are extended, it may be a rather dark Christmas on the waterfront.
Asked about the possibilities, Gumley said, “I have to stay positive.”
“They’ve been very responsive, the senior people in the Ministry of Health. The city has been helpful, too, in trying to create a plan that would work. It’s just pretty rough right now.
“We’re hopeful. I’m reaching out to the city on a number of things about where we could go as restrictions relax a little bit. Hopefully, after Christmas, maybe there’s some things we can do in January and February, but that’s all speculation. I think the bottom line is that we’re still trying to do something for this year, this season.”
Gumley said his organization has been reaching out to donors and people who purchased light panel displays and told them that they’re waiting until after Dec. 7 to make a decision.
“We just have to remain optimistic. That’s all we have to do.”
Gumley said he still plans to stage some components of the event, such as installing decorative seahorses on the waterfront. He also noted the city is replacing the year-round decorative waterfront tree lights, which could be done in early December.
This week, the city issued a press release announcing it’s now encouraging people to wear masks in outdoor spaces when it’s hard to stay two metres apart.
In a news release issued Wednesday (Nov. 25), city officials note that signs have been posted in public places, including parks, on the White Rock Pier and along the waterfront promenade, encouraging people to stay two metres apart and to wear masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
The move was suggested by the city’s COVID-19 Recovery Task Force, and is directed at residents and visitors alike, the release notes.
“Council approved a mask communication campaign on Nov. 9, 2020, just ahead of the Provincial Health Officer’s direction on Nov. 19 that moved wearing masks from expected to mandatory,” the release adds.