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Troublesome Thieves Attempt To Steal Christmas

The spirit of generosity shone brightly in Calgary over the weekend following the theft of Christmas lights.

Since 1986, the Lions’ Festival of Lights has put on Calgary’s largest drive-by light show featuring 500,000 lights.

The Festival of Lights is a hallmark of the holiday season for Calgarians.

But this year, thieves with a taste for copper threatened the festival’s 37th annual display at the Confederation Park Golf Course.

The Festival of Lights was officially lit on November 25 at 6 PM. But thieves stole several kilometres of lights just days before the festival launched.

Scrap dealers pay a high price for copper.

Because of the quantity of copper in the wires, Christmas lights are attractive to thieves, making the Festival of Lights a desirable target.

The Festival of Lights is a labour of love and is set up entirely by volunteers. Preparations begin as early as October.

“Most of the people don’t understand that it takes a long time to get this display up… we check all the light bulbs, every light display. We go through it to make sure that all the lights are actually working on it,” Otto Silzer, the organizer for the festival, told CBC News.

A beautiful light display at the 37th annual Lions' Festival of Lights in Calgary  Lions' Festival of Lights
A beautiful light display at the 30th annual Lions’ Festival of Lights in Calgary | Lions’ Festival of Lights

Down But Not Out!

But it would take more than theft to stop the Festival of Lights

With the help of volunteers and donations from the community, the festival was able to kick off on Saturday without a hitch.

The opening ceremony featured ice sculptures, fireworks, and food bank drop-offs. 

“There’s a lot of people that have stepped up to make donations to help us recover from that, and we’ve been able to do that,” explained Silzer.

Events like the Festival of Lights create opportunities for the community to come together and share experiences.

The citizen’s recent display of generosity shows how important the Festival is to the community.

Ben Brackett, the City of Calgary’s team lead for festival and event planning, says community events are especially important during the colder months.

“An incredibly important part of the festival and event industry is making sure that we have an opportunity to connect as a community. Festivals create a great opportunity for people to get outside when it can be otherwise challenging,” said Brackett.

Whether you have been to the Festival of Lights before or this is your first time, the event brings something new for everyone.

This year, the Festival expanded its rope lighting section, and some original displays were reworked to be brighter and more exciting.

The Festival of Lights is turned on night from 5:30 PM to midnight and runs until January 8. 

Admission is free, so why not stop by and walk through the fantastic display?

Thieves may have tried to steal Christmas, but that didn’t stop the community from coming together to launch the Christmas Spirit as a dazzling light display.

A crowd listening to music before the launch of the 2023 Lions' Festival of Lights in Calgary
A crowd listening to music before the launch of the 2023 Lions’ Festival of Lights in Calgary | Facebook

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