Forced to tone down one of its biggest events of the year, the Town of Okotoks is asked public’s help to brighten spirits in the coming weeks.
The Town is expanded its annual lights tour by kicking off the event the evening Light Up Okotoks was scheduled to draw thousands of people downtown.
Zach Adams, community events specialist, has invited residents and merchants to decorate their homes and storefronts in festive decor from Nov. 20 to Dec. 25.
“We absolutely couldn’t do Light Up in its traditional form so we wanted to kick off the holiday season in a way for people to enjoy it with safety front of mind,” said Adams. “We knew the light tour was a really great opportunity.”
Light Up Okotoks draws around 10,000 people to downtown Okotoks each year with its dozens of vendors, endless supply of hot chocolate and treats, carollers, Christmas tree light up ceremony, hay rides and visit from Santa Claus, but with restrictions on physical distancing and gatherings in light of the COVID-19 pandemic Adams said it wasn’t possible to host the popular event in its usual format.
“There was no real way that we could control the amount of people we get at Light Up so for the safety of everyone involved it just didn’t make sense to continue what we traditionally do,” he said. “We had a few vendors reach out, but as soon as we talked to them about why they completely understood. It’s out of our control.”
Adams said he hopes the lights tour will lift spirits as merchants and residents decorate their homes with bright lights, inflatables, window murals and winter and Christmas-themed décor. He said last year’s event, which took place in December, featured 20 decorated homes.
A map of the tour will be posted at www.okotoks.ca on Nov. 20. The deadline for registration is Nov. 16.
Adams said the Town is in the midst of planning some activities for Light Up Okotoks, but on a much smaller scale than the public is used to.
“Light Up is one of our premier events in Okotoks and everyone looks forward to it every year,” he said. “It’s such a big part of us and we didn’t want it to pass and not have anything marking that day.”
Watch for a future edition of the Western Wheel for more details on the Town’s plans for Light Up Okotoks.
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