This year will mark a decade that the Peace Draft Horse Club has put on a holiday light show out at Evergreen Park. The club took on the Northern Spirit Light Show in 2009, three years after its predecessor was shut down.
Treasurer Cheryl Kimble says the group had no idea how successful the show would be when it ran the first one. Now, it’s become a yearly tradition for thousands of people from around the region.
“I just think the meaning of Christmas is to get together with family and reconnect with friends that you don’t get to see. This gives them a place to do that.”
The light show is built by volunteers over eight weekends leading up to the opening day mid-November. Once at the park, visitors can either drive through or take a horse-drawn carriage. There’s also a warm-up shack with hot chocolate and hot apple cider.
New this year are several more light displays the club purchased from the now-defunct BrightNights festival once held in Edmonton’s Hawrelak Park. While the Ogopogo made its first appearance last year, Kimble says a new carriage drawn by a horse and penguins will be among some of the new sights.
“Every year we’ve kind of changed the position of the displays so that people see them in a different setting,” she adds. “It’s always exciting for the children and that’s what makes it worthwhile for us, just seeing how happy they are to see that.”
While the Peace Draft Horse Club doesn’t have an exact tally of how many make it through the show each year, Kimble says 22,000 drinks were handed out last year and many people who drive through instead of taking a wagon don’t make it into the shack.
The light show also gives back to the community in a big way. Donations for the Salvation Army Food Bank are collected, and admission is donated to community groups selected each year. Last year brought in more than $50,000.
“There’s a lot of smaller groups that can use just a little bit of help,” says Kimble. “We can make a difference in those smaller groups like the hot lunch program at schools.”
The 2018/2019 show opens up November 16th and then runs every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday until December 2nd. It will then be open every night from December 7th to 31st, other than Christmas Day. The cost to drive through is $15 a vehicle and wagon rides cost $5 a person. Children under the age of 10 ride for free.