-0.5 C
Niagara Falls
Monday, February 6, 2023
Thousands swarm Queen Street for annual Candlelight Stroll
Ceto Reid couldn't stop smiling as the carriage got ready to begin the Candlelight Stroll. Photos by: Somer Slobodian, Evan Loree and Julia Sacco
Ceto Reid and Julia Buxton-Cox pose for a selfie at the Candlelight Stroll. Photos by: Somer Slobodian, Evan Loree and Julia Sacco
From left, grandmother Francoise Leniveau, mother Anouk Masters-Leniveau, daughter Brooke and father Eric Rogers. Photos by: Somer Slobodian, Evan Loree and Julia Sacco
Back row from left: Wendy Cheropita, Gary Burroughs, Dwayne Edwards, Tom Pekar, Erwin Wiens, Julia Buxton-Cox, Gary Zalepa, Minerva Ward, Andrew Niven. Front row from left: Adriana Cater Vizzari, Wayne Gates, Jane Andres and Ceto Reid. Photos by: Somer Slobodian, Evan Loree and Julia Sacco
People were shoulder to shoulder on Queen Street for the annual Candlelight Stroll. Photos by: Somer Slobodian, Evan Loree and Julia Sacco
Julia Buxton-Cox, Ceto Reid and Coun. Erwin Wiens after the Candlelight Stroll. Photos by: Somer Slobodian, Evan Loree and Julia Sacco
Harley Morgan lends Betty Morgan a light for her candle during Friday's Candlelight Stroll. Photos by: Somer Slobodian, Evan Loree and Julia Sacco
Ceto Reid and Julia Buxton-Cox at the Candlelight Stroll. Photos by: Somer Slobodian, Evan Loree and Julia Sacco
Carollers sing Christmas tunes as the crowd walks through Old Town during the Candlelight Stroll. Photos by: Somer Slobodian, Evan Loree and Julia Sacco
Lincoln and Welland Regiment Band treated those at Friday's Candlelight Stroll with classic Christmas tunes. Photos by: Somer Slobodian, Evan Loree and Julia Sacco
Carollers belt out Christmas songs as they wave to the crowd. Photos by: Somer Slobodian, Evan Loree and Julia Sacco
From left, grandmother Francoise Leniveau, mother Anouk Masters-Leniveau, daughter Brooke and father Eric Rogers. Photos by: Somer Slobodian, Evan Loree and Julia Sacco
The crowd follows the carriage down Queen Street at the Candlelight Stroll. Photos by: Somer Slobodian, Evan Loree and Julia Sacco
Though it was cold, thousands of people came out to Niagara-on-the-Lake's Candlelight Stroll. Photos by: Somer Slobodian, Evan Loree and Julia Sacco
From left, Kristen and Maisy Hoyle and Jessica O'Donnell came all the way from Buffalo to enjoy the beautiful Candlelight Stroll on Friday. Photos by: Somer Slobodian, Evan Loree and Julia Sacco
Close up of Scott Elliot playing the Snare Drum with the Lincoln and Welland Regimental Band. Photos by: Somer Slobodian, Evan Loree and Julia Sacco

 

Somer Slobodian and Evan Loree

The Lake Report

By the end of Friday night’s annual Candlelight Stroll, Ceto Reid didn’t want to leave. 

Reid is a farmworker from Jamaica who was struck by a car in October while riding his bike in St. Catharines. 

He is also one of three beneficiaries of the Candlelight Stroll, along with the Farmworkers Hub and Niagara-on-the-Lake Community Palliative Care Service.

On Friday, just before the Candlelight Stroll began, Reid was inside the old Court House’s mayoral office with the rest of the recipients, looking very nervous surrounded by lights, cameras and people.

“I can’t find words to tell you how much I feel,” said Reid. “I’ve never experienced something like this before.” 

Thousands of people swarmed Queen Street in Niagara-on-the-Lake, toting red and green candle holders – some with a flame already flickering inside. 

Farmworker advocate Jane Andres and Julia Buxton-Cox from the Farmworkers Hub have both been Reid’s rocks throughout his recovery. 

“If it wasn’t (for) them, then I wouldn’t be here tonight,” said Reid. 

He said he doesn’t know how he would have managed if it wasn’t for the two women.

“I should thank everybody for the support that they are showing me (and) giving me,” said Reid.

It was welcoming to see so many people and how much support he’s received, he said.

As the clock approached 6:30 p.m., the energy inside the Court House and on the streets grew and Buxton-Cox was thrilled for what was to come.

She hopes this helps raise awareness for migrant workers, since “they’ve been the invisible workforce in many towns across Canada,” she said.

“The bottom line is, and this is what I’m going to say tonight, is the people who feed you need you,” Buxton-Cox said before the Candlelight Stroll began.  

Nothing could prepare Reid for the number of people he was about to see – all there for the stroll and to support him and the other recipients. 

The shock was written all over his face as he moved to the front of the crowd.

A NOTL Chamber of Commerce spokesperson estimated there were more than 6,300 people in attendance.

Collectively, the stroll raised $7,985 for the beneficiaries. 

Reid will receive half of that amount, while NOTL Palliative Care and the Farmworkers Hub will each receive 25 per cent. 

NOTL Palliative Care board chair Patricia Whitwell and executive director Bonnie Bagnulo both expressed their thanks for the support the agency gets from the community. 

Outside on Queen Street, visitors and residents, children and adults, and the occasional dog were squished together like sardines in a can as the beneficiaries of the candle sales gave thanks from atop the Court House steps.

“Wow, what a crowd. Can we get a woohoo for all the farmworkers!” said Buxton-Cox to the swarm of people.

One family huddled together under the awning of a nearby building had come from Dundas to bask in the Christmas spirit. 

They were quietly sharing their candlelight while the sound from speakers atop the Court House steps was barely audible above the crowd chatter. 

The father, Eric Rogers, sees Christmas as an opportunity for friends and community to get out and spend time together.

He turned to his daughter Brooke to ask her what her favourite part of Christmas was. 

With a mischievous smile, she said, “Spending time with my family.”

Dad that what she really loves is opening gifts on Christmas morning. 

Rogers’ wife, Anouk Masters-Leniveau, said this was the third year they’ve come to the Candlelight Stroll.

It is becoming a tradition for the family and they usually stay a night at one of the town’s hotels. 

As the stroll began through Old Town, Reid was smiling from ear to ear as he waved and  shouted “Merry Christmas!” to the crowd from the carriage. 

Along the route, people passed carollers, harpists and musicianss.

The Lincoln and Welland Regimental Band, in full uniform, played classics like “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Frosty the Snowman.” 

A mother and her son stopped at the corner of Regent and Johnson to watch the band play. 

“He loves music,” Aurora Bachert said as her son Lochlan stared wide-eyed at the military musicians.  

First-timers Kristi Lu, Rima Roco with their five-year-old daughter, Kristi Roco, were excited by the experience.

Young Kristi was fascinated by the flickering flame in her candle holder. 

It was undeniably a special night for not only the recipients, but the crowd as well. By the end of the stroll, Reid was smiling uncontrollably and was disappointed it was over. 

“It’s wonderful! I don’t want to leave!” he said.

 



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