Festival of Lights had a record number of visitors over the holidays

The fourth annual Woodlawn Regional Park Festival of Lights came to an end on Jan. 8, and it was a blast, just as expected.

With the record number of participants, they also had a record number of visitors.

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According to the information received through the RM of Estevan's road counter, about 4,500 vehicles turned up to enjoy almost 40 colourful, often funny and very creative lights displays.

Maureen Daoust, who is the business manager at the Woodlawn Regional Park, said they were very pleased with how the event turned out.

"Festival of Lights 2020 was a great success. We were super excited," Daoust said.

They also received a lot of great feedback from the community.

"People were thrilled to be able to go down and see how beautiful it was, and to see how much better it was than it was in the past, even though previous years it was good too," said Daoust.

With probably over 10,000 people visiting the festival this year, they also received a lot of generous donations, and Daoust was grateful to guests for that, as it will help with the park operations and future editions of the festival.

The interest in the event was very obvious. Every time volunteers went down to the park there was a lot of traffic there, and sometimes there were vehicles still circulating between the expositions even after 11 p.m.

"We are so happy that so many people got to enjoy it over the Christmas season," Daoust said. 

Volunteers went down every day just before dusk to make sure that all inflatables were still up, all the lights were working properly and displays were still looking great for people to enjoy. They also would go down there at the end of every evening to collect the donations from the box.

There were no awards for the participants this year, but it didn't affect the turnout, as it wasn't the main point.

"This is the second year that we haven't had any awards or anything like that. We decided that it was too hard to find groups that are nonbiased to the (participants). We tried it for a couple of years, and it didn't seem to come together in the way that we hoped it would. So we just said to people, 'You are participating just to spread the joy in the Christmas season,'" said Daoust.

And the public was very pleased with the efforts put into the festival by participants. This year the festival was opened up to community groups, and two groups used that opportunity. A church also joined the festival, along with a few new service and not-for-profit organizations.

"We are happy that we were able to offer this to the public."

Daoust said that it was really interesting to see how different companies would approach their displays, as there were no dos and don'ts and the entire projects were left up to the creators.

This year the traditional Kick off to Christmas in the Park party and fireworks were cancelled due to the health safety measures. Daoust said that they are already looking forward to Festival of Lights 2021, and hope that by then they'll be able to have some of their regular activities and entertainment back.

In the meantime, Daoust thanked everyone involved with the event.

"I'm continuing to thank our volunteers and staff that helped out, and also our sponsors, Southern Plains Co-op, the Estevan Chamber of Commerce, Henders Drugs and Energy Electric Ltd. And we are always thankful for the community support," said Daoust.

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