A small Foothills village may become the brightest spot in the region the next couple of months with its outdoor lights display.
Longview Village staff and volunteers are stringing more than 20,000 lights on fences, trees, vacant lots and village property along the Cowboy Trail, in the Tales and Trails Campground and Smith-Fuller Centennial Park in what’s becoming a village tradition.
The display kicks off Nov. 29 during Light Up Longview in the Tales and Trails Campground where residents and visitors are invited to a bonfire for free hot dogs, hot chocolate and Christmas caroling from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
“We get lots of summer traffic, tourism and campers, but in the wintertime our tourism traffic drops off,” said Dale Harrison, Longview chief administrative officer. “It gets to be a long, dark drive from when you leave Longview to when you pop up in the Crowsnest Pass. This creates a bright spot for people. We create a place that gives them a positive impression.”
Light Up Longview began three years ago with 8,000 strung lights. The number of lights doubled last year, with sequencers at the village office, campground and the empty lot north of the Twin Cities Hotel, said Harrison.
“We want to get people coming out and spending time in the village and drive around and enjoy the ambiance,” he said. “We keep the lights on until the end of January to create a bright spot in the winter.”
Harrison said the Village purchased second-hand lights from across the province, including a series of commercial sequencers this year.
The Village is running two 16-channel sequencers in the campground that will be programmed to music and run five to six hours each night. Harrison said with no outside speakers, the music will be programmed to an FM radio station.
“The nice thing about these commercial sequencers is if the budget is there you can add up to 24 to 30 sequencers and we could have up to 300 lines of lights flashing on and off which would do our whole campground,” he said.
In addition to lighting up trees in the campground, Harrison said staff and volunteers are decorating a 30-foot-tall metal tree made from a trampoline frame with four different coloured strands and 12 sequencers.
“We can make the tree all white, all blue, all green and all red, or we can make the colours spin around,” he said. “We can make a whole lot of activity on that one structure.”
The outdoor rink will also be lit for skating once the rink is flooded, said Harrison.
“If you have an FM transmitter you can listen to the music as you skate,” he said.
Harrison said the Village budgeted up to $5,000 for the occasion, but added most costs are covered by personal and corporate donations.
In its first year, the village paid more than $300 in electricity costs for the lights, said Harrison, adding the total for last year has yet to be determined.
“Because they’re all LED lights, the cost of running these is less than 10 per cent of the old conventional lights,” he said. “The increase in cost is pretty nominal, that’s why all of our lights are on timers. When I did the annual budget there was no significant change in our power consumption.”