Port de Grave boat light­ing a com­mu­nity event

The Compass - - FEATURE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER EN­TER­TAIN­MENT nmercer@cbn­com­pass.ca

Christ­mas in Port de Grave has long been as­so­ci­ated with one at­trac­tion in par­tic­u­lar.

It’s highly an­tic­i­pated and viewed by many as the of­fi­cial kick off of the hol­i­days in the Con­cep­tion Bay North com­mu­nity.

For the past two decades, fish har­vesters in the com­mu­nity have been ig­nit­ing the har­bour with lights in ad­vance of Christ­mas.

The dozens of boats that are tied to the wharf dur­ing the win­ter months are dec­o­rated with Christ­mas lights of var­i­ous sizes, shapes and colours.

Some own­ers even put in ex­tra break­ers to han­dle the juice nec­es­sary to power the light show for hours on end.

Lights flick­er­ing off the har­bour sur­face cre­ate an at­mos­phere that you’re not likely to see any­where else. The lights first catch the eyes of mo­torist while crest­ing the hill head­ing into Port de Grave.

There is an im­me­di­ate im­pulse to stop and ad­mire the whole har­bour, but most get closer. Cam­eras drawn, they snap away in hopes of get­ting the per­fect pic­ture.

They’re pulled in like moths to the flame and cap­ti­vated by the ex­quis­ite beauty cre­ated by the event.

The first boat to fly Christ­mas lights was Eric Lear’s in 1995.

“It was a spur of the mo­ment thing,” he re­cently told The Com­pass. “It’s be­come some­thing that Port de Grave is known for.”

A couple of years later, boat owner Joyce Mor­gan oth­ers de­cided to make it a group ef­fort.

The first year, 1999, they man­aged to get 36 boats to par­tic­i­pate or just un­der half of the boats docked at the wharf.

Six­teen years later, that num­ber has bal­looned to 63 boats with their masts dec­o­rated.

“We’ve turned the orig­i­nal num­ber around,” said Mor­gan. “Some peo­ple haven’t missed a boat light­ing.”

Bring­ing a com­mu­nity

to­gether

You can call it a boat light­ing, but in more re­cent years, it seems more and more peo­ple are turn­ing their home lights on at the same time as the wa­ter craft.

It pro­duces a Christ­mas glow that em­anates across the night sky. There are crab pot Christ­mas trees and houses with plenty of candy canes on the lawn.

The boat evolved into event.

“It makes it worth­while,” said Lear. “It seems like all of the fish­er­men are in town for it.”

“We’re very proud of it,” added Mor­gan. light­ing has a com­mu­nity

Plenty of visi­tors

Now, the boat light­ing in Port de Grave has taken on a life of its own. It’s a highly an­tic­i­pated and even worl­drenowned event.

“It draws a lot of peo­ple in,” said Lear. “The traf­fic on some evenings is un­real.”

It’s ap­peared in air­line mag­a­zines for Amer­i­can air­lines, has been fea­tured on tele­vi­sion and in the Down­home mag­a­zine. The lo­cal se­nior cit­i­zens homes bring their res­i­dents by the bus­loads to the har­bour.

Mor­gan fig­ures there were some 30,000 visi­tors to Port de Grave last win­ter.

“It’s un­be­liev­able how big it’s got­ten,” said Mor­gan. “It’s bumper-to-bumper some nights.

“Not in our wildest dreams did we think it would get this big.”

Small towns have an un­usual re­la­tion­ship with Christ­mas. They’ve each de­vel­oped their own tra­di­tions, re­la­tion­ships and events that re­flect how they see the hol­i­days.

For Port de Grave, it only makes sense given their con­nec­tions to the fish­ery, it’s boats.

“This is our Christ­mas,” said Mor­gan.

PHOTO BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

Ev­ery Christ­mas, the har­bour in Port de Grave is lit up brightly.

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