The Candlelight Stroll in Niagara-on-the-Lake typically attracts thousands of people to stroll a decorated Queen Street and listen to carollers and choirs sing Christmas songs.
This year’s 29th annual event was no different.
The stroll, organized by the Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce, collects donations in the form of candle purchases, and typically gives the money to a local child in need. This year, the focus was on mental health and inclusion, with funds going towards “buddy benches” at participating NOTL elementary schools.
The concept of buddy benches is to allow school kids to signal their need for support from peers by sitting on the bench.
NOTL Chamber of Commerce chair Paul MacIntyre said the topic of mental health is close to his heart, as he has watched a friend struggle through an undiagnosed psychological illness.
He made a point to thank Stan Harrington and generations of his family, who for decades have been helping with road closures, organization, and crowd management.
“We thought about young people in our community as a whole, and specifically about their mental health.” said Janice Thomson, Chamber executive director.
“We felt there really needs to be inclusion and kindness regarding mental health issues … We hope that the raising of awareness of the importance of both asking for a friend talk to, and of being a friend to others who reach out, will be beneficial to the young people in our town.”