Tecumseh's 'Holiday Lights' keeping Christmas spirit alive during pandemic

·4 min read

More than a hundred homes in the Town of Tecumseh are taking part in the inaugural "Holiday Lights" program.

Residents are encouraged to decorate their houses with holiday lights and explore the town to look at other brightly lit homes as a way to celebrate Christmas safely.

Tecumseh mayor Gary McNamara is pleased with the success of the program, especially since the town's other Christmas events, such as the Santa Claus parade, were cancelled this year due to COVID-19.

"We've got registered over 150 homes, but I must say, the community itself, whether they engaged into the competition or not, this is probably ... one of the years where we've seen a lot more lights," he said, adding that some have "gone over the top."

Other residents agree, including his daughter-in-law Melissa McNamara, who's also seen more of her neighbours decorate their homes this year.

Tahmina Aziz/CBC
Tahmina Aziz/CBC

"We're really appreciative for the the Holiday Lights competition. It's given the community a way to get together socially distant. And it's been great driving around each night and seeing more and more lights," she said.

"It's a safe way to get out of the house, to still be together and enjoy the community at large."

Shelley Mero, who started decorating her home in late November, said she's happy to see all the Christmas lights in her neighbourhood.

"I was very excited when I started to see everybody else follow suit and decorate. And I love seeing the lights. It's just looks beautiful," she said, adding that she's noticed people putting in more effort in embellishing their homes each year.

Tahmina Aziz/CBC
Tahmina Aziz/CBC

The Quigg family said they've noticed people frequently visiting the area to look at their home, which took about a week to decorate.

"We wanted to go a little extra big this year just because of the situation that we're in, obviously with everything going on. Just something for people to be able to come out and see. We've been trying to go a little bit more every year. So this year is no exception," said Mike.

"It's great," he adds.

"We have a lot of repeat visitors too that come by that are walking their dogs that have said that they've gone out of their way to walk the extra block just to come see it, even though they're tired. So it makes you feel good and makes us want to keep doing it and try to keep making a bigger and better."

Tahmina Aziz/CBC
Tahmina Aziz/CBC

"We have people stopping all the time. Morning before school kids will come, they walk through," Rachel said, adding that she's also noticed more people participating in lighting up their homes this year.

"A lot of people are definitely in the spirit, despite everything that's going on this year."

Tahmina Aziz/CBC
Tahmina Aziz/CBC

They admit it's a lot of work, but say it's worth the effort and they're proud of how it turned out.

"As long as it puts a smile on people's faces, that's all that matters," Mike said.

Tahmina Aziz/CBC
Tahmina Aziz/CBC

The town's mayor said the program allows for the community to come together, celebrate Christmas while complying with public health guidelines.

"When you gather as a community like we do in the past, we're talking four to six thousand people and they're clustered quite tightly. So it's critical for us to continue to follow the public health guidelines," he said.

Sonya Varma/CBC
Sonya Varma/CBC

"It's been a tough time for the last nine months or so where we've been restricted in of what we can and cannot do. And so this is certainly an opportunity for us to kind of brighten Christmas a little bit," Gary McNamara said, adding that he wants to bring the program back next year due to its success this year in addition to the other traditional Christmas celebrations.

Although there there is a competition element to the program where participants can win a prize worth about $100, Melissa McNamara said that's just a bonus.

"The community spirit that it brings and that it captures really is the the full essence of the holiday season. So the competition is just extra," she said.