Longview ready to light up

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Thousands of strings of lights will brighten up trees and buildings along Longview’s main street and in parks when dusk settles on the village over the next several weeks.

The Village of Longview has implemented a two-month long light-up program in an effort to transform the community into a winter wonderland.

In the past few weeks, close to 6,500 feet of lights have been strung up around the information centre, in the campground, around the school, at the community hall, fire hall, municipal building and various other locations.

The inaugural Light Up Longview will kick off Dec. 1 when the lights will be switched on. Residents and visitors alike will be invited to warm up at a fire pit and enjoy hot dogs and hot coco in front of the Twin Cities Hotel, as well as tour the lights in a fire truck starting at 6 p.m.

“The intent is to turn these lights on Dec. 1 and leave them on until mid February,” said Dale Harrison, chief administrative officer. “It’s just to create a bright spot in the long dark winter nights for the people that travel along the highway and create a more positive impression of the village.”

Harrison said if the weather was colder, the Village would have flooded the outdoor rink and held a skating party with the area all lit up.

Planning began about three weeks ago, when village staff started collecting lights and receiving corporate donations to make the event happen, Harrison said.

The village implemented an adopt-a-tree program to get residents to invest in paying the electrical costs to light a tree in the campground. He said he’s estimated the cost to keep the lights lit for about seven hours a night at $12.50 per tree for 90 days.

“We have lots of trees we can put lights onto and lots of power plugs,” he said.

Harrisons said the Village has already received about $2,800 in corporate donations towards Light Up Longview, and that council approved using half of the $5,000 the Village won in the Fortis Alberta Earth Day challenge last spring.

While it might seem contradictory that the village is using the money it won for saving electricity to pay for lighting, he said all of the bulbs are energy-efficient LEDs.

“It’s amazing these LED lights,” he said. “You can have a 16-foot string of lights with 70 LED bulbs and that’s 4.8 watts. Just one of the old incandescent bulbs was nine watts. You can get 32 feet of lighting for what one light bulb used to cost in power consumption.”

Harrison said a lot of the merchants are hopping on board and putting up lights to make the village more colourful during the darkest season of the year.

Harrison said he got the idea from visiting the northern community of High Prairie, which took on a similar initiative.

“You’re driving for an hour of dark between communities and you come into this community and they’ve got this one block lit up where their town office is,” he said.

Harrison said he thought it would be a great way to brighten up Longview, and he feels support from others.

“Most of the people are excited about the idea and looking forward to it,” he said. “We are excited to see what it’s going to look like when it’s all lit up. We got a little bit of a preview on Saturday night when we left everything plugged in while we were working.”

When Twin Cities Hotel owner Chris Goss was asked by the Village to be a part of Light Up Longview, he was immediately on board.

Goss is providing a fire pit in front of the hotel and giving away hot chocolate and hot dogs.

“Everyone is welcome to come and roast hot dogs and have hot chocolate,” he said. “I think it will be a good turnout, especially if the weather is nice.”

A fire truck will depart from the hotel for tours of the lights.

“We like to be good outstanding citizens of the community and be part of the community because the community supports us,” Goss said. “It’s the spirit of Christmas.”

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