Panorama primed for 60th an­niver­sary

Tillsonburg News - - NEWS - JA­COB ROBINSON more in­for­ma­tion on the event can be found at sim­ jrobin­[email protected]­

if you think a cou­ple weeks of bad weather is go­ing to greatly af­fect the sim­coe Christ­mas Panorama river of lights, think again. satur­day night will mark the open­ing of the 60th an­niver­sary of the pop­u­lar tourist des­ti­na­tion which in­cludes dozens of Christ­mas-themed dis­plays and tens of thou­sands of lights shin­ing in the down­town park sys­tem.

rain and snow has chal­lenged or­ga­niz­ers dur­ing setup, but keep in mind, the fes­ti­val was ac­tu­ally born be­cause of mother Na­ture.

back in 1958, the town’s santa Claus Pa­rade was can­celled due to in­clement weather and so the floats were as­sem­bled in the park so they could be seen by lo­cal res­i­dents. strings of lights were hung over the floats – and the an­nual tra­di­tion was born.

“we’re down to the short strokes and we can’t wait,” said Panorama vice-pres­i­dent John davies. “bring it on.”

davies and gary edge – the long­est-serv­ing vol­un­teer at 38 years – were in welling­ton Park Tues­day work­ing on the fi­nal touches be­fore satur­day’s big re­veal. davies said the rain has kept vol­un­teers off the grounds at cer­tain points but ev­ery­thing will be ready to go for this week­end.

“we’ve been hard-pressed to keep up with all the ac­tives we have go­ing on in the park but the ex­cite­ment level as we move to­wards satur­day gains and gains,” davies added. “we’re mak­ing good head­way.”

The lights will go up in the park around 6 p.m. The board has been given per­mis­sion by artist glo­ria mitchell to play her song ‘Christ­mas in sim­coe’ writ­ten specif­i­cally about the event. santa will ar­rive on a vin­tage bickle fire truck around 6:20 p.m. and stick around to meet the kids un­til 7:45 p.m.

“when i see the kids get off the bickle with santa Claus, they re­ally en­joy it – that’s when i get to see their en­thu­si­asm,” said davies, who is posted up at welling­ton Park for the night. Port dover il­lu­sion­ist lu­cas wil­son will be un­veil­ing what davies calls a “spec­tac­u­lar” dis­play that night. also mak­ing an ap­pear­ance will be the da­ley fam­ily, who were in­stru­men­tal in or­ga­niz­ing the orig­i­nal Panorama as well as Nor­folk’s mayor-elect Kristal Chopp.

For as much pomp and cir­cum­stance that open­ing night brings, davies feels the Panorama has be­come one of the top 100 fes­ti­vals and events in on­tario be­cause of the work done 12 months a year.

“i think the level of the main­te­nance on the dis­plays and the ad­di­tional lights we have year af­ter year con­tin­ues to at­tract peo­ple,” he be­gan. “if the main­te­nance wasn’t kept up to speed peo­ple wouldn’t come, they wouldn’t talk about Panorama.”

as is al­ways the case, scouts Canada and the Tu­maini Chil­dren’s Foun­da­tion will help keep walk­ers warm by sell­ing hot chocolate and ap­ple cider re­spec­tively.

“i think that adds an el­e­ment of au­then­tic­ity to the over­all Panorama be­cause when they pay some­thing they know it’s go­ing for a good cause which is re­ward­ing, es­pe­cially at this time of year,” said davies.

a host of other events will be tak­ing place in and around the park un­til the fi­nal night on Jan. 6, 2019.

if any per­son or fam­ily is think­ing of at­tend­ing, davies sug­gested do­ing so on a week­end. “if peo­ple re­ally want to feel the ex­cite­ment of Christ­mas Panorama, be here open­ing night or any Fri­day or satur­day night,” he said. “it’s a zoo, it re­ally is – in a good way, which is very ex­cit­ing for us to see.”

Chris Ab­bott/Till­son­burg news

vol­un­teers at the 4th an­nual Talk Till­son­burg Chil­dren shop for Christ­mas event satur­day at up­per deck played some ta­ble ten­nis late in the af­ter­noon af­ter it had slowed down. ear­lier in the day, be­low, they were wrap­ping up a storm pre­par­ing gifts se­lected by chil­dren for their par­ents.

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