On any given day, Williams Park is a gorgeous natural oasis full of forests, creeks, and trails.
But at Christmastime, it becomes something truly magical.
And a team of volunteers were on site the past few days ensuring that the “winter wonderland” full of lights, as well as blowup and cutout decorations comes to life on schedule this weekend.
Several dozen volunteers and Langley Township staff literally decked the park out in lights this past Saturday and Sunday in preparation for this Friday’s 27th annual kickoff to Christmas In Williams Park.
They hung hundreds of strings of lights from the trees, fence lines and just about anywhere else they could find to decorate within the rural park on the weekend, explained Scott Johnson, the Township’s parks service coordinator.
“Considering the great weather that we had, we actually got more lights up [Saturday] than we’ve ever had on the first day of set up,” Johnson added.
“That was really fantastic for us,” he said, noting they’ve had every kind of weather during past set ups – but he doesn’t remember it ever being as mild and dry as Saturday.
He made that comment just minutes before the rain began to pour late Sunday morning. Nevertheless, the teams continued working diligently throughout the park hanging lights on trees within what Johnson called the inner circle, where a walking trail is being established for guests who want to get out of their car and safely wander through the park on foot.
Young volunteer Emmett Franklin, 13, was out with his father, Ben. They were helping string lights for the third year running, and showing first-timer Cindy Sun of Surrey, the ropes.
Emmett said it’s fun to help set up the lights, and more thrilling to come back – when it’s all done – and see the final results.
“It’s just fun,” Franklin said of the experience, noting his family always comes down at least once during the event run to see the lights.
More lights than ever
“It was a very successful run last year, lots of great donations, so we expect better this year,” he added.
As a result of the donation, a lot of new lights were bought by the society this past year.
“We’re going to be able to light the park up that much more, and open up to that many more visitors this year… We’re very excited for this year,” he said.
Johnson has been with the Township for 25 of the last 27 years the event has been happening. While he hasn’t been involved every single year, Johnson has been “immersed” in the park event for the past 10 years.
“ I think the public will be extremely happy with what we’ve accomplished,” he added. “This is going to be, by far, the best year we’ve ever had.”
The annual Williams Park celebration takes place from Friday, Dec. 1 to Friday, Dec. 15, running nightly between 5:30 and 9 p.m.
Visitors are invited to drive through the park at 238 Street and 68 Avenue to experience the illuminated holiday spectacle from the comfort of their own vehicles.
The event is free, but donations are gratefully accepted to help cover the cost of maintaining the displays, Johnson explained.
“Donations are gladly accepted for Williams Park Society, and we’ll put all that money back into purchasing more lights and more displays for next year. So, there’s a lot more to come.”
Christmas in Williams Park was first held in 1991 and continues thanks to the efforts of the event’s organizing committee, the Williams Park Society, and community volunteers, who team up with the Township to present the event.
Opening night ceremonies
On opening night Friday, Township Mayor Jack Froese will be on hand to kick off the festivities a little earlier.
The opening ceremonies will begin at 4:30 p.m. and include a visit from the Grinch.
“Apparently Santa’s super busy,” said society member Barb Sharp.