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May. 28, 2022 | Saturday
Local News
Candlelight stroll not cancelled, but will be different this year
File photo.

Niagara-on-the-Lake's hugely popular Candlelight Stroll won't be the same this year, though organizers are doing their best to keep the tradition alive.

The stroll, put on annually by the NOTL Chamber of Commerce, typically attracts thousands of people to come light candles and walk around the historic district, enjoying Christmas carollers, choirs and celebrating the holiday season.

Due to the health risk of such a gathering amid the COVID-19 pandemic, chamber president Eduardo Lafforgue said it's "impossible" to go forward with regular plans in 2020.

"Obviously we cannot have the 15,000 people that (walked last year)," Lafforgue said in an interview.

Instead, the stroll will be mainly virtual this year and will be broadcasted live on Cogeco.

This year Lord Mayor Betty Disero, chamber chair Paul MacIntyre and Lafforgue will start out the ceremony on the steps of the courthouse (typically they stand on the balcony) and a singer will, as is tradtion, kick off the stroll with two Christmas carols — though there shouldn't be an audience.

After that, people who have pre-purchased candles will be enouraged to light them from their homes.

He said the chamber is hoping to have live drone footage show the candles being lit around town.

Lafforgue said candles will be going on sale this week and can be found in stores and restaurants across all five areas of town — Virgil, Glendale, Queenston, St. Davids and Old Town.

"It can be at the same time a very nice community thing, because it will not just be downtown, it will be all over."

Lafforgue said the stroll committee is still trying to figure out how to keep the crowds away.

Candles will be $3 each this year.

Lafforgue said the charities for this year aren't yet set in stone, but that the traditional Newark Neighbours food drive will continue, and that some of the funds will go towards welcome packages for NOTL's seasonal farm workers.

"I think the most important thing that we need to say is that we're doing everything to keep that tradition alive and be able to (give money to charity)."

Last year $8,000 was given to a Jamaican farmworker who was injured and $2,000 was given towards welcome kits for seasonal farm workers.