Residents and businesses in Black Diamond and Turner Valley are getting into the festive spirit with one of the most anticipated celebrations of the year.
Light Up Black Diamond has become a community tradition where home-based businesses sell wares at a Turner Valley market during the day and merchants offer discounts, treats, crafts, prizes and live entertainment in downtown Black Diamond at night.
This year’s event takes place Dec. 2 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
A familiar face at Light Up is ’50s-loving restaurateur Marv Garriott, who is bringing live entertainment in the form of poodle-skirt wearing zumba dancers again this year.
“I had them here two years ago and they used to come to our car show all the time,” he said. “Their dance routine is ’50s so they have the poodle skirts and that kind of thing so it fits in with our scheme of things here.”
Garriott said he had a full house that year and was eager to bring the dancers again last year, but waited too long to book them.
This year he was quicker on the draw and will have performances at 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
A regular participant in community events, Garriott said Light Up Black Diamond has become a tradition for him.
“It’s important for the town, and for us, at least, it’s the last busy day we’re going to have until the next long weekend so we need to get everybody we can get here,” he said.
Shelley Broadley, planning and economic development assistant, said the communities always get a fantastic response from their merchants – and this year is no different.
“There’s a bunch of businesses that weren’t participating previously that are going to open up and get in on the fun,” Broadley said. “Getting them involved really is a bonus for them. It brings people from outside of our small town to come in and see what there is to offer. It helps boost their visibility and what they offer in products. The more that are open, the more that it’s a big draw.”
Among the highlights of Light Up Black Diamond is the arrival of Santa Claus in a fire truck for free photos with children at 5 p.m.
The photos will take place in the municipal building in the event of inclement weather.
Attendees can hop on a horse-drawn wagon that will take them throughout downtown, with stops at the municipal building, the parking lot on 1st St. SE and Country Food Mart AG Goods.
Those looking to stay toasty can warm their hands at the many firepits, hop aboard a bus that will take them on a tour of light displays throughout Black Diamond or enjoy crafts in the Griffiths Senior Centre.
“On warmer years we see more than 1,000 people,” Broadley said. “It’s weather dependent. When it’s nice out you can hardly move, it’s that well attended. Even in the colder weather there’s been lineups and people found ways to keep warm.”
Warming up Light Up will be 30 local crafters in the High Country SPCA annual Christmas Market fundraiser in the Flare ‘n’ Derrick Community Hall in Turner Valley from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The market will also feature pet photos for $5 and a raffle, as well as a concession with a breakfast, hot dogs, soup, snacks and a variety of beverages.
Susi John, president of the High Country SPCA, said the fundraiser features a wide variety of local talent with creations that include knitted clothing, woodworking, art, signs, custom-made wine bottles and baking.
“It seems like our towns have a whole lot of talent,” said John. “A lot of those people run their own business.”
Each year the market draws more people and last year raised about $3,000 from proceeds and donations, as well as a matching donation of $3,000.
“Every year it’s been getting busier and busier,” John said. “We are expecting anywhere from 300 to 500 people.”