About the Festival
The founder, Tom Gerlich, relocated from South Western Ontario where he co-chaired a Christmas light festival called “The Holiday Fantasy of Lights.” At the request of the “Alexandria & District Chamber of Commerce,” a presentation was made to the Town Council in November 2006 to use the Island Park Location. With only a few weeks to get the festival together, original founders managed to open the show with twenty-two exhibitors and a backdrop of brightly lit trees. With only one day before opening, the festival organizers efforts sustained heavy damage due to a two-day ice storm. Everyone came out and pitched in to resurrect the displays and ensure the trees were lit to open as planned.
“The Alexandria Richelieu Christmas Parade” rolled into the park for the first time, and the lights were turned on for the next thirty-five days.
The success of the Alexandria Festival of Lights is thanks to the many volunteers, community support and major sponsors such as “The Jewel 107.7” “Scotiabank” “North Glengarry Township” “Alexandria Home Hardware” and “Genuine Convenience Store.” Without the support of major sponsors, The Alexandria & District Chamber of Commerce, and The Township of North Glengarry this festival could not continue from year to year.
It is a community event that not only brings forth colourful trees but unique and individual displays from businesses, schools, and local organizations. There is no entrance fee into the festival for either the exhibitors or the public. The organizers only ask for a goodwill donation “if you can” to help keep the exhibit going. Being a non-profit organization money that is not used to operate the festival are donated back to the community through park improvements.
In 2008, the Festival of Lights donated a kiosk to serve as a tourism office in Island Park in Alexandria. In 2009, electrical service to the kiosk was installed to use in 2010. In 2010, further upgrades were made to the electricity infrastructure in the park.
The Alexandria Festival of Lights operates the festival to better our community by increasing tourism in the Alexandria area and bring our families together in a winter wonderland of Christmas lights. It’s all about the Kids, the moms and dads, and giving back to them the joy that they bring to us living in our community.
The Alexandria Festival of Lights was something a little bit different but something exceptional, unfortunately, the festival closed in 2017.
In 2009, my daughter and I started helping the Alexandria Festival of Lights. She was five years old, the youngest volunteer to this day. I joined the committee and took over publicizing the event. Evolving Media & Design Inc. was a silver sponsor where Jeff Poissant created all the promotional ads, banners, the website and provided hosting.
During the Festival of Lights, my daughter would help make hot chocolate for the visitors, hand out candy, and direct people to the wagon rides. She was right in there. We spent five years participating; it was a weekly affair or almost. On Saturday mornings, for nine months, my daughter and I helped. It was amazing watching my five-year-old checking large rolls of Christmas lights to see if any were broken or burnt out, wrapping Christmas lights on the fence rails or decorating the trees at Island Park with Bonnie MacDonald.
As the years past, my daughter became a real pro, she knew what needed to be done, even helping with decorating the park.
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