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Light Up decks Cochrane's streets with strings of LED

Cochrane Light Up is coming. Earlier this week, crews were busy laying out light plans for the festive event's 37th year, which will kick-off Dec. 4 and be virtual for a second time.

Cochrane Light Up is coming back bigger and brighter than before.

Earlier this week, crews from Our Electrician, WinDucks and First Light Automation were busy planning and stringing up lights for the festive event's 37th year, kicking off virtually Dec. 4 for the second year in a row.

Event chair Stephanie Shelstad said she feels the event being virtual gives it a more intimate feel, reminiscent of Light Up's early years.

"I like this idea because it's bringing it back to the original Light Up's where it was about getting to know your community members," said Shelstad. "Cochrane is so big now to try to get everybody into downtown, so this way, it keeps it in the community — friends can still get together and still have those small groups and still have fun."

The show runs in the Historic Downtown core each night from 5-10 p.m. and the light sequence resets every half hour.

The planning committee initially cancelled the event due to a lack of funding to purchase new lights, until Cochrane Home Treasures stepped in to donate $15,000 — the amount the committee indicated was needed to to go ahead while also expanding on the committee's vision. 

"When we put that up on Facebook that were cancelling just because there was some cloudiness around the town's response to our request for more funding... Cochrane Home Treasures reached out to me and they have a grant process where you can apply. So, I wrote them a quick email explaining what we were doing and they graciously accepted our email and gave us the grant that we were hoping to get." 

This year, the committee was able to purchase brighter LED lights and in a higher quantity than previous years, she added.

"We'll have a couple of singing characters that will sing along with the music, there will be a whole lot more trees lit up and the gazebo display will also be something much bigger."

Shelstad stressed the planning committee does not want the public to gather downtown during the event's kickoff which will be live streamed from Centennial Plaza at 4 p.m.

"Stay home, gather with a neighbour or two, turn on your Christmas lights and watch the live stream," Shelstad suggested. "And then come on down anytime after 7 p.m., we really want to light up Cochrane."

The event's kickoff will include a greeting from the mayor, a performance from the Mini'Thni dancers and a Stoney Nakoda First Nation drummer, with more details still to come. 

Shelstad also teased at something new to the event this year.

"There's going to be a 12 Days of Christmas element of surprise coming into it that will start the day after the light show, but I can't say anything past that," she said.

Urban Casual will be doing community check-ins this year, similar to last, Shelstad said. They will live-stream their rounds through different neighbourhoods to highlight houses participating in Light Up and those having small outdoor gatherings who wish to be featured.

"This year, what we're gonna do is have people let us know if they'd like to have their house featured or if they're whole cul-de-sac is going to get together, then we can probably use those areas as a focal point for our community check-ins."

Shelstad said more information should become available through Urban Casual's website or Facebook page in the coming days.