Hundreds and hundreds of people filled the front lawn of the historic Fort Langley Community Hall on Saturday, Dec. 4, to mark the return of the first in-person Christmas tree lighting since the pandemic hit.
They applauded the Langley Community Music School children’s choir and cheered Santa’s arrival, then counted down with him to light up the tree.
As before, Santa had arrived at the public docks by river in a small flotilla of boats, and walked up Glover Road, escorted by many fans, with a few helpers keeping his way clear.
There was hot chocolate available from the little hut on the hall front lawn, compliments of Wendel’s Bookstore & Cafe.
Among those on hand for the event were Jesse Rypstra and his son Isaiah.
Rypstra, owner of Langley-based Outline Christmas Lighting, was the reason the event went as smoothly as it did.
He stepped up when flooding cut the roads to Chilliwack, where the company that usually handled the lights was based.
“It was awesome,” Rypstra told the Langley Advance Times.
“I was glad to be a part of it.”
Sandy Cameron, treasurer of the Fort Langley Community Improvement Society, the group that operates the historic hall, said they were having trouble finding a last-minute replacement after the Chilliwack company reluctantly pulled out.
At one point, she said, the board of directors discussed renting lights and calling in volunteers to install them.
“We were considering do it ourselves,” Cameron explained.
“We knew we weren’t going to cancel it.”
But that would have meant no time to decorate the hall.
Then, one board member, who had hired Rypstra to do their home, suggested contacting him.
On the Wednesday before the tree lighting was scheduled, he agreed to take on the job, and had it completed by Thursday.
“He was terrific,” Cameron enthused.
Brigitte Seib, executive director of the Fort Langley Community Hall, said it was difficult to calculate how many people attended, but it was substantial.
“I thought it was the most I’ve seen in four years,” Seib commented.
This year, the tree was a 10-metre tall Grand Fir, provided by a local tree farm, “and we already have one picked out for next year,” Seib added.
More photos from the event can be viewed online on the Langley Advance Times Facebook page.
Last December, owing to pandemic restrictions, the tree had been turned on without Santa, a crowd, or a countdown.
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