It’s little wonder why Ladysmith’s annual Christmas Light Up, held Thursday night, is so successful.
The whole community gets involved in the event, which celebrated its 32nd year this year, decorating the streets, homes and businesses with thousands of Christmas lights and then inviting the whole Island to their big party.
And come they do, with more than 20,000 people from outside the community of 8,500 swarming into Ladysmith to see the incredible light up and the ever-popular Santa Claus parade each year.
In Nanaimo, a community 10 times the size of Ladysmith, there is an annual Santa Claus parade to kick off the festive season as well, but it pales in comparison to what goes on in Ladysmith.
It says a lot for the spirit in that community that they organize and pull off such a successful event year after year.
Unfortunately, I haven’t attended a Christmas Light up in Ladysmith for many years, but I was a regular attendee about 20 years ago when my brother would set up hot dog and popcorn stands there.
The line ups were long at those stands, despite our efforts to try to keep up with demand, but, considering it was such a happy and exciting evening, most people were very understanding and rarely complained if their wait was longer than they expected.
One year, I was in charge of dishing out cups of hot chocolate from a serving concession at one of the Light Ups and I was deeply concerned about burning the mouth off our customers because the hot chocolate was so hot.
I spent hours warning all the customers to be careful with the hot chocolate when I noticed that someone (probably me) had managed to kick the electric plug from the warming stove out of its socket.
That meant all the extremely hot chocolate that I was warning the customers about was actually cold as ice, and I was so busy with customers that I failed to notice there was no steam coming from each beverage I sold.
My heart skipped a beat when I realized what I had done and I began looking around waiting for many angry people to storm up to me to complain and demand their money back.
But all I saw were smiling faces and laughing, delighted children.
It seems that if anyone noticed the hot chocolate was actually cold, they didn’t really care that much and were more interested in all the sights and sounds of the event.
I considered it my own personal Christmas miracle, and ensured the next batch of hot chocolate that I made was actually hot.
I didn’t talk about this incident much afterwards for fear that attendees to the Light Up that year would remember getting stuck with a cold hot chocolate and hold it against me.
But I figure that after 20 years, most would never remember anything about it after such a long time.
Ladysmith’s Christmas Light Up is just one of many festive events that will be taking place in the Cowichan Valley over the next few weeks, and I encourage people to bundle up the kids and get to at least a few of them.
But if you’re buying hot chocolate, make sure you stick you finger into the cup to make sure it’s hot before you pay for it.