The lights are going up in Williams Park.
Volunteers and Township of Langley staffers began stringing hundreds of cords and thousands of bulbs on Saturday, preparing for the opening of the 28th annual annual drive-through Christmas lights display this Friday, Nov. 30.
This year, “Christmas in Williams Park” has been expanded to run three weeks, until Dec. 22, a Saturday.
There will be more lights, several thousands of dollars worth, and new displays, said Barb Sharp, the president of the Christmas in Williams Park Society.
Some of the new displays have been purchased from a group of Western Washington State Christmas lights fanatics known as the Pacific Northwest Christmas Lights Addiction Problem (CLAP).
Known for their devotion to over-the-top Christmas displays, the group is a good source of elaborate and well-maintained second-hand displays, said Sharp, who discovered the U.S. group during a 2016 trip to Woodinville, Wash. – a community known for its impressive holiday lights displays.
“I’m always researching, looking for things,” Sharp said.
She got to talking with a CLAP member, who mentioned some of the mega-size displays occasionally come up for sale.
Sharp has since become a member of the Washington State Group and attends their annual general meeting in the spring, at her own expense.
Among the additions to the Langley display that has resulted from the Washington connection sales is an arch with dancing lights that change colours.
This year, the society is adding arches of its own creation at various locations.
There will be a number of other new additions as well, that Sharp said were surprises yet to be unveiled.
She is looking forward to the post-Christmas period when one CLAP member known for amazing light shows puts his collection up for sale.
“He is going to be selling off some of his displays because he’s going to a different-size space and we’ll be making an offer,” Sharp said.
There will be free hot chocolate and candy canes on the Friday the display opens, and the Friday after that, courtesy of CUPE B.C., Sharp said.
There have been more than a few ups and downs for the annual event, which was almost cancelled in 2014 when thieves made off with around $10,000 worth of lights stored at the park, the second theft in two years.
It was rescued by a nine-year-old girl, Sara Walmsley, who started a campaign to replace the stolen lights and save the event.
As donations and offers of help flooded in, the society announced “a leap of faith” and said the park would light up as planned.
This year, the park will be open to visitors to drive through and admire the lights from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. each night.
The event is free, but donations are welcomed to support next year’s volunteer-run event.
Williams Park is located at 238th Street and 68th Avenue, in the Harnsworth neighbourhood of Langley.