Plans for the White Rock Festival Lights are to add to existing city tree lighting on the waterfront. Contributed photo

Event set to light up White Rock’s Memorial Park

Inaugural Festival of Lights will launch on Dec. 6

The inaugural White Rock Festival of Lights is on track and gathering momentum for a soft launch Dec. 6, and a more formal launch on Dec. 7, with the help of the White Rock BIA and South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce.

The aim of the event is to ramp up the display of seasonal lighting in the Memorial Park area – including a 30-foot stylized ‘tree’ of lights near the Museum and Archives, lighted living trees purchased by contributing families and businesses, a “meadow” of lanterns created by elementary school children in the grassy area of the park and “seahorse” lighting displays contributed by the BIA.

In combination with city lighting on the pier and on the museum – and contributions of volunteer entertainers at the amphitheatre area of Memorial Park – it’s the hope of organizers that the month-long festival will help provide a focal point for visitors to the waterfront throughout December and early January.

And while the WRFL organizing committee – Gary Gumley, former White Rock mayor Catherine Ferguson and Jas Salh – acknowledge that the plans are not as extravagant as originally conceived, they believe that the first event will provide a good starting point that will build interest and participation in future years, boosting White Rock as a destination during the winter months.

“At some point, we want to become the Leavenworth (Wash.) of Metro Vancouver,” Gumley said. “That’s the vision.”

Helping bolster plans for the first year has been White Rock council’s endorsement of the festival, through its economic development advisory committee and Marine Drive Task Force, as well as a vote for a grant-in-aid of $5,000.

“We’re so pleased to have the mayor and council on side and so glad to have their support,” Ferguson said.

Adding to the momentum is the fact that sales of living trees have already been “brisk,” she said.

With as many as 100 trees available to the festival to position at the waterfront and decorate, Gumley said, sales will continue until all are purchased.

“At the end of the festival, the living trees will be offered to those who purchased them, and if they don’t want them they will be donated to the city,” Gumley said. “Any the city can’t use will be taken back to Chilliwack and replanted.”

Cost to the public is $200 for a family-sponsored tree, $250 for a small business and $1,000 for a corporate sponsorship. Among those who have already purchased a tree are MLAs Stephanie Cadieux and Tracy Redies.

Sources Community Resource Centres, Semiahmoo House Society and the White Rock Rotary Club are participating, Ferguson and Gumley said, and a portion of proceeds from the first year will be going to the ongoing White Rock Rotary and city project to raise funds for new equipment for White Rock Elementary and Peace Arch Elementary’s playgrounds.

DCML Chartered Accountants have also come on board as a presenting sponsor, but organizers said they are still looking for a ‘marquee’ sponsor (at the $10,000 level).

Adding to fundraising efforts for this year, Coast Capital Savings has established an account – 4059017 – for direct donations to the event.

For more information on the event visit the WRFL website at wrfl.ca

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Contributed photo A 30-foot tree lighting design will provide a focal point for the White Rock Festival of Lights.

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