Christmas festival lifts spirits, brings community together

MORINVILLE, Alta. — A Morinville museum exhibit opened a door into Christmas 100 years ago during the Alberta town’s recent Light Up the Night Festival.

It included popcorn garlands, porcelain dolls, old teddy bears sitting around a tea set, ornaments made out of yarn and cookies and candles used as tree lights.

“They had real candles on the tree because there was no electricity,” said museum co-ordinator Donna Garrett.

“They were old candles and it was special to light them. I’m sure there was a pail of water close by just in case.”

She said it’s important for children today to learn about how the pioneers lived.

“The relationship from the past is getting further away, so if we don’t preserve and show it, it will be gone,” she said.

“People need to know where they come from and where they are going.”

The Town of Morinville hosts its Christmas festival every year to connect neighbours with one another.

This season marked the 23rd annual weekend of festivities that included a Santa Claus parade, fireworks, a Christmas market and family skating.

The event grows each year, a trend people in town say is consistent with Morinville’s larger population.

“It’s getting bigger and bigger,” said Kathleen Ducharme, the town’s events and cultural programmer.

“We try to make sure we give everyone the same fun experience, and there’s still room to grow.”

Across the street from the museum exhibit, the library hosted a choir and auction and offered a warm place indoors to watch the parade.

“Everyone teams up,” said Stacey Buga, the library’s programming co-ordinator.

It’s a big event for the town that is well supported, with streets full of people no matter how cold it is.

“I think for the community it is important for everyone to have an opportunity to come together,” she said.

“A lot of people leave during this time to visit family or shop, so this is a good way to bring everyone together to bring back that small town feel,” said Buga.

Ducharme agreed.

“When winter comes in any community, people stay inside more often,” she said.

“This is a great way for people to come outdoors and meet friends at the festival. It’s a great way to get out and connect the community.”

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