by Morinville News Staff
Morinville – The Christmas season in Morinville officially kicks off this weekend with the annual Light up the Night Christmas Festival, an event funded by the Town of Morinville and organized by a committee of dedicated volunteers and community partners.
“This is yet again another wonderful community event that is open to all residents of the Town and area, and is a great celebration for the community,” said Allen Jacobson, Morinville’s Community Development Coordinator/Event and Volunteer Specialist. “It has to do with Christmas, of course, and I like the theme. I like the theme of Light up the Night. The whole town is decorated in lights. It’s an inclusive event for kids. The seniors are involved. All the businesses are involved. It’s a light up of St. Jean Baptiste Park, which is this iconic and beautiful park we have here.”
Jacobson said the event is made possible by the Town of Morinville and the Light up the Night Festival committee joining forces with local businesses and organizations to make a three-day event for the community. “The Town of Morinville is a sponsor of this, of course, but it is a volunteer-run committee,” Jacobson said. “It’s the same committee as last year. It’s a wonderful committee. We’ve met a couple times and the nice thing is they are all prepared. They’ve been doing this for a while.”
This year’s festival includes 17 events spread over the three days, events chosen to bring families together in the heart of Morinville for a community celebration.
Lots of events
The festival weekend kicks off Friday with the annual Fill-A-Bus initiative for the Morinville Food Bank Society. The bus will spend the morning at No Frills and the afternoon at Sobeys. The goal this year is to surpass the nearly 7,000 pounds of non-perishable food items and the roughly $2,600 in cash donations that were raised last year.
Friday evening brings David James and Big River, a Johnny Cash tribute show to the Morinville Community Cultural Centre for a concert. Showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets are $25 per person, $20 for seniors and $10 with student ID.
Saturday will see the festival kick into high gear. Activities include the Lion’s pancake breakfast with Santa at the Legion from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m., children’s activities and entertainment at the Cultural Centre from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., and the Morinville Festival Society’s Festival Farmers’ Market and Craft Sale at the high school from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The non-profit society took over the farmers’ market and annual craft sale from the Friends of the Morinville Public Library earlier this year.
A highlight for families on Saturday is the addition of Flyin’ Bob’s one-man circus on the cultural centre stage. Two free performances will take place – one at 10 a.m. and one at 2 p.m.
Parade and fireworks a tradition
The annual Christmas Festival parade will take place from 5:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. and will be followed by the lighting of St. Jean Baptiste Park by Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Fireworks will take place immediately after the park is lit up.
Jacobson said this year’s parade floats would receive colour commentary from Councillor Stephen Dafoe and former Town Councillor Joe Gosselin. “The parade is a tradition we’ve got here with Mr. and Mrs. Claus lighting up the park,” Jacobson said, adding the parade route will start at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre, run west on 100 Avenue past the post office. Mr. and Mrs. Claus will turn around at the end of the route to return to St. Jean Baptiste Park where the jolly couple will throw a big switch to light the park.
But parades and fireworks are not the end of the entertainment lined up for Saturday. The Ray McDonald Sports Centre will be home to the annual Morinville Jets Alumni Game at 6 p.m. and a Morinville Kings Senior AA regular season game at 8:30 p.m.
Sunday’s activities include a free family skate with Santa Claus from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at the arena, and a family movie at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre at 6 p.m. This year’s movie is Tim Allen’s The Santa Clause. Doors open at 5:45 p.m. and this year’s family movie night will offer free popcorn and pop in addition to the movie.
Best lights contest
Sunday evening will see area seniors travelling around town to offer their judgement on Morinville’s best decorated and lit homes. Judging of this year’s best lights contest will take place at 6 p.m. Jacobson said residents could nominate neighbours or themselves for best outdoor Christmas display. To enter the competition or for more information on the weekend’s activities, contact Allen Jacobson at 780-939-7832 or firstname.lastname@example.org.