Above, Sandy Burns, Chair of the North Dundas Parade of Lights committee, speaks with NVN’s Nelson Zandbergen about the upcoming event, known during this COVID-19 year as the North Dundas ‘Display’ of Lights. Scroll down to read more about the event below.
WINCHESTER — As always, admission to this event is free, which runs 6 to 9 p.m. on two nights this year — Friday, Dec. 4, and Saturday, Dec. 5 — but in refashioned form to comply with pandemic rules.
Instead of rolling through the streets past hundreds of spectators, the spectators themselves will roll past the floats in what’s dubbed the North Dundas ‘Display of Lights’!
Visitors will stay in their vehicles and drive slowly through the large Rideau Auctions property to enjoy the lit-up spectacle of stationary floats and displays.
The volunteer Parade Committee, made up of Sandy Burns, Brianne Scott and Matthew Roy, has been working alongside the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, Rideau Auctions owner Hunter McCaig, the Municipality of North Dundas, and the OPP to ensure the event is safe for participants and spectators alike.
“We’re very grateful to Hunter for generously allowing us to use his property as a location for this event,” Burns said. “We will be encouraging our float participants to get creative with their displays this year, because for the first time, it doesn’t have to be on wheels. They can set up a more elaborate display on the ground, and we can’t wait to see what they come up with.”
Fries for Charity will be on site, offering the tasty treats in exchange for a donation as vehicles exit the display lot. All proceeds will benefit Cassandra Young and Jessica Goodenough, who were badly burnt in a bonfire incident near Brinston on Oct. 24.
Volunteers from the North Dundas Christmas Fund will also be collecting donations on site. In accordance with guidelines from the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, all candy and treats to be handed out by float registrants will be collected prior to the event and organized into loot bags, to be distributed at the entry gate by a volunteer.
A live band (The Great Music Guys) and opera singers will have a radio station unit set up on the grounds, and spectators can tune in on their car radios to listen while they are on site. Kim Hovegeen will emcee the event on the station between tunes. “It’s worth coming out just to hear them,” exclaimed Burns.
In accordance with guidelines set out by the OPP, traffic will only be allowed to turn right going into and coming out of the site. Northbound traffic wishing to enter the event will be guided right onto Dawley Drive, left onto Main St., and then left at the lights onto County Rd. 31. Traffic at Rideau Auctions will be controlled by members of the OPP.
Parade of Lights toques are available for purchase for $10 each (cash only please) at the Township of North Dundas office and the Planted Arrow in Winchester, and McEwens and Mike Dean’s in Chesterville.
Below: With a flaming Grinch atop its float, Top Notch Tree Maintenance & Removal earned the People’s Choice Award in the 2019 North Dundas Parade of Lights.
Below, the full 2019 Parade.
A Vendor Show is also slated upstairs at the Joel Steele Community Centre, Saturday, Dec. 5, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Volunteers will be limiting the number of shoppers allowed into the vendor fair, but the variety of products available makes it worth the wait. The vendor show is a great way for shoppers to do some Christmas shopping and support local artists, crafters and vendors at the same time.
Even though the float-entry deadline has passed, Burns says there’s still some time to accommodate those wishing to add their float. And with 23 currently registered — down from the 50 or 60 of a regular year — she doesn’t see that as pushback against the concept of a stationary parade. In fact, some participants are welcoming the setup as a chance to do more with their presentations for a somewhat more captive audience. While visitors won’t be able to stop at individual sites on the two nights of the inaugural event, they will be advised to drive very slowly.
Early in the COVID cycle, the display idea came to Burns who had visited the fundraising Magic of Lights show in Nepean, more than 300 stations over two kilometres with an entrance fee per vehicle. The rest of the organizing committee agreed there was potential if COVID lingered, and planning started in August.
As always, all registered floats will be automatically entered in the event’s annual Float Contest. Awarded after the event, prizes consist of baskets containing local products. Float categories include:
● Best Overall
● Best Business Float
● Best Non-Profit Float
● Best Agricultural Float
● Best Animal Float
● Most Lights
● People’s Choice (spectators vote on our website)
● Most Lights
● Most Original
● New for 2020 only: Thanking Our Frontline Workers
This NVN spotlight page is sponsored by The North Dundas Display of Lights; Great Music Guys; Reis Equipment Parts & Service; Winchester District Memorial Hospital; North Dundas Building Supplies; the Dairy Farmers of Ontario; Sabrina’s Avon Shop; and Guy Fuels.