Port de Grave boat lighting a community event
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
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.
Every Christmas, the harbour in Port de Grave is lit up brightly.