The Town of Black Diamond is getting into the festive spirit of giving this month by offering an evening of fun at no cost to its residents and visitors.
The Town is inviting people from across the region to the community’s downtown core to participate in free activities and enjoy treats and beverages at its annual Light Up event on Dec. 6 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Activities include wagon rides, chestnut roasting, pictures with Santa Clause and the opportunity to browse through shops to enjoy treats, refreshments and discounts.
“It’s good for the businesses because it’s a form of advertising, but also they are giving back to the community,” said David Petrovich, the Town’s economic development and events coordinator. “It’s reminding people that the businesses are here for Christmas shopping and to allow the businesses to say thank you. It’s a place and time for businesses to give back a little bit, too.”
Naramata Bench Clothing owner Lori Czerwinski joined in the festivities since opening her business, and is eager to be a part of Light Up again.
“I think it is a really positive event for our town,” she said. “I think it creates a nice warm atmosphere in our little town. People come out in quite large numbers and enjoy the evening. The shops all stay open and we are all offering different kinds of activities or refreshments.”
Czerwinski will treat visitors to Christmas music performed by Debbie Roney, an accomplished pianist and music instructor in Black Diamond, and invites them to join in some caroling at around 8 p.m. Shortbread cookies and eggnog will be available, in addition to a 15 per cent discount on all clothing and accessories, she said.
“I’m hoping current clients, as well as new folks, will come in and visit my store,” she said. “People are really talking it up this year. There’s quite a buzz on the street.”
Turner Valley’s Diamond Willow Artisan Retreat is planning something special for Light Up.
Co-owner Doug Lothrop said they are organizing chestnut roasting on a grill beside the Bluerock Gallery.
“When we were over in Italy a few years ago we witnessed it on the streets and it was quite delightful,” he said. “It’s just something that’s different and very unique. It brings a special something to the program.”
Petrovich said the Town budgeted $4,000 for Light Up, with additional funding provided by the Foothills Lions Club.
“It’s a way to get people to feel a sense of community,” he said. “It’s a great time for people to get out and see their neighbours and welcome guests as well. It brings people to our town so it helps with tourism.”
Petrovich encourages attendees to begin the event at the tent in front of Grillo’s Pizzeria at the four-way stop to collect maps of participating businesses, enter the candy cane contest where participants count candy canes in local businesses for the opportunity to win a prize and to have their children photographed with Santa Claus.
In the event of very cold temperatures, the station will be set up in the basement of the municipal building.
The Diamond Valley Chamber of Commerce is joining the festivities by inviting businesses to build and decorate a gingerbread house and the public to vote for their favourite, also located at the tent.
Throughout the day in Turner Valley, the High Country SPCA is hosting a Christmas market from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Flare ‘n’ Derrick Community Hall featuring a pancake breakfast, silent auction and various vendors.
With many activities planned, Petrovich hopes the event will be a success this year. He said the numbers were quite low last year because it was so cold.
Due to the low turnout and the devastating effect the 2013 flood had on many businesses in the community, the Town didn’t charge merchants the $20 participation fee, which covers advertising costs, Petrovich said.
“We felt that we wanted to give businesses an extra break,” he said. “Last year we didn’t have it budgeted to be able to deal with that so we had to charge as per normal. This year we could account for last year being a devastating year because of the flood and Light Up being so cold, added to the fact we couldn’t give them fire pits (because of the fire ban).”
For more information and to learn where Santa will be located on the night of Light Up (the information will be posted on Dec. 5) go to www.visitblackdiamond.ca.
Winners of the candy cane contest will be announced after the event at www.visitblackdiamond.ca