SOUTH GLENGARRY -- Organizers of the first annual Holiday Sparkle Event say it’s all about bringing the community together.

Kicking off Dec. 3, the drive-thru light display just east of Cornwall will run every Thursday to Sunday until Dec. 20.

Event lead Kelly Bergeron said the idea came to her while she was walking in Gray’s Creek Conservation Area with her boyfriend recently.

 “It was a beautiful fall day and I was thinking about the winter and how we’re going to be forced to isolate,” said Bergeron, the director of digital programming at the Social Development Council of Cornwall and Area. “It was really important for me to bring something to the community where we could use public space to benefit everyone, and this is such a beautiful site that I thought, you know, its worth it just to ask.”

The social development council of Cornwall and the area reached out to the Raisin Region Conservation Authority to see if they site could be used. They jumped on the idea.

“We’re certainly proud to be a partner on this wonderful event and pleased and proud that they chose us and the GCCA.” Said Lisa Van De Light from the conservation authority. “ The one-kilometre roadway meanders through the GCCA and it’s lined by mature trees which makes it a perfect setting for a holiday lights event such as this.”

More than 50 trees will be lit up, with donated lights and other holiday displays lined along the path.

Tickets for the event are free and can be booked online for a specific time, so long lines of cars will be avoided. There are two options: one free ticket or one free ticket with a donation.

 “We wanted to ensure that everyone was able to show up and not wait three or four hours, so we had a proper reservation system in place,” Bergeron said.

Holiday SparkleAbout 1,400 tickets have already been booked, and Bergeron expects more that 5000 cars to drive through the display over the three weeks.

“A lot of folks have been signing up online and making donations which we greatly appreciate. All of this money goes back into the event and some of it will go to the United Way because we wanted to support a local non profit and charity.”

Food donations and non-perishable items are also being accepted and will go to the Agape Centre Centre in Cornwall.

Organizers are looking for more sponsors to join in to help keep costs low to run the event over the three weeks.

“we do need sponsorship. We are so thrilled to have people donating generators and donating decorations. We do have a virtual reality component for those who do not have a car, so we are looking for sponsors for that experience because we know how important it is to make the event accessible to everyone,” Bergeron said.

Van De Light said the event has been getting a lot of attention from the community since it was announced a couple of weeks ago.

“People are volunteering, we are getting some sponsors and I think that’s a true testament that people are looking for something to do, especially during a time where we’re encouraged to stay home,” she said. “It’s the holiday season. We want to get together and celebrate in some capacity and its just amazing that we can offer this COVID-friendly safe event for the community to enjoy.”

Organizers are also working with the local health unit to develop guidelines for the event.

At this point, it will be a drive-thru event only and people will not be able to participate by foot.

“A lot of people think it takes millions of dollars to make something happen, but sometimes it could be a really cost-effective, urban intervention that really makes people start to think outside the box and see opportunity,” Bergeron said.

“It’s such an inexpensive way to be able to bring people together and create vibrancy.  

For more information or to book a time slot to drive-thru the event, visit their website.