As the COVID-19 pandemic seems to take a darker turn with each passing day, Mayor Peter Brown wants the city to keep the lights on and is calling on residents to re-light their Christmas lights, if they haven’t yet been taken down.
“I just thought of it one day and thought, how can we connect a community that is feeling disconnected and isolated and, hopefully, bring some calm to a very difficult situation,” he said.
“It’s not necessarily about Christmas lights, as not everyone celebrates Christmas. It’s just about turning on your lights and letting everyone know we’re still connected.”
Since Brown posted the idea on his Facebook page March 17, many Airdrie residents have taken the call to action and have shared photos of their shining Christmas lights on social media using hashtags like #ShareTheGlow.
“The message was, we’re all in this together and we’re going to get through it together,” Brown said. “Let’s keep it going and stay positive. We’re going to get through this.”
Airdrie Festival of Lights Society (AFOLS) has taken Brown's idea and run with it. While the society’s lights displays were taken down at Nose Creek Regional Park in January, executive director Michelle Pirzek said some lights were still hanging from the evergreen trees above the AFOL sign, which have been turned back on.
“When I first saw [Brown’s idea], my first thought went to energy bills and electricity – can people afford that, and is this a good idea?” Pirzek said. “But we’re in the world of LEDs. For the festival of lights, we’ve done the switch over to LEDs and it cut our consumption by two thirds.
“This is an easy thing to do and, on the flip side, if you can’t afford it or if your lights aren’t still up, that doesn’t mean you can’t go for a walk and enjoy those that are. That’s the point – connecting those we can.”
Pirzek said adverse weather on the weekends had pushed back the task of taking down the lights, but now they will remain up for a bit longer.
She said she hopes they can spread a little bit of cheer for people who are walking through the park.
“We hope people are still doing social distancing but still getting out for that walk, and if there are a couple of lights to look at in the park, that’s wonderful,” she said.
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