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History of Fantasy of Lights

The Holiday Fantasy of Lights began in 1993 with 23 displays and dreams of more to come. Dreams became a reality when we completed our sixth year with 125 displays. It all began with a letter from Mrs. Marlatt to the city council asking why we could not have a Christmas light display here in St. Thomas, similar to displays in  Simcoe or Niagara Falls. Some concerned citizens got together and, with the help of Bracebridge donating some of their old Christmas lights, the Fantasy started to take off. Community groups were included in planning meetings and the rest is history.

Our displays are the work of community volunteers who represent young and old, groups and individuals, churches, social clubs, businesses and industries as well as health care professionals, our police association and professional firefighters. Their displays depict themes of their choice and they are completely responsible for set up and take down as well as storage. The Fantasy committee is responsible for coordinating the event. As coordinators of the event, the Fantasy of Lights Committee works with as many as 125 volunteer groups. The cooperation and enthusiasm generated by these groups exemplifies teamwork and community spirit.

Community spirit was evident some years ago when a major windstorm blew through the park the afternoon of opening night. There wasn't one display that did not incur some damage. Calls were made to the groups and before long the park was alive. As one group finished their repairs, they moved on to the next display to help and so on. The cooperative effort resulted in repairs to most displays to ready for opening night.

Originally the Holiday Fantasy of Lights Committee borrowed thirteen thousand dollars from the City of St. Thomas to get started.  Free-will donations allowed us to repay the City at the end of the second year. Our mandate states that any monies raised will be used for improvements to the parks throughout the City of St. Thomas. By adhering to that mandate we have installed electrical wiring throughout the park, installed new electrical outlets and eavestroughs in and on the West Pavilion. The washrooms in the park have been insulated and heated as well as non-slip tile flooring has been installed. We have donated 60 various kinds of evergreens to the parks as well as tulip bulbs for the flower beds and fertilizer for the short grass in the baseball fields. Additionally, new picnic tables and a new Park sign have been purchased from these funds.
The success of the Holiday Fantasy of Lights has brought inquiries from several other communities. Information packages have been sent to Thunder Bay, Milton, and Clinton, Ontario, as well as to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

The continued generosity of the visitors to Pinafore Park during the Fantasy of Lights will "Help the Fantasy Grow. We are strictly non-profit, and the noted improvements, as previously stated, were possible solely from generous free-will donations.

What the Holiday Fantasy of Lights has done for St. Thomas and Area

After the second year the Fantasy repaid the $13,000 loan from the City that was used to get started.

30 electrical pedestals in the park.

Insulated and heated the washrooms for winter use.

Installed new non-slip floor tile in the washrooms..

Had eaves troughs put on the West Pavilion and the washrooms.

Two electrical contactor switches for the hydro room in the West Pavilion.

Bought a magnetic electrical key switch for the electrical pedestal by the washrooms.

Rewired the upstairs of the West Pavilion and put in a new panel box.

86 evergreen trees for the parks of St. Thomas.

Supplied fertilizer for the baseball diamonds.

Helped supply tulip bulbs for the City flower beds.

Purchases picnic tables for the parks.

Bought two trees for the Cowan Park project, done by Lynhurst Community Association.

Bought two trees for Communities in Bloom - one for Arbor Week and the other for a tree exchange with Corner Brook, Newfoundland

Helped sponsor the 100th Anniversary of Pinafore Park in 1998.

Assisted with decoration for the opening of the 2000 water relay across Canada in St. Thomas.

Purchased an entrance sign for Pinafore Park (1998).

Purchased an entrance sign for Waterworks Park (2002).

Purchased new playground equipment for Pinafore Park.

Financial assistance for the Memory Garden in Pinafore Park

Security lights for the West and East Pavilion.

Sound equipment for the Music in the Park Program.

Collected food donations at our entrance gate for the Christmas Care Program.

Food supplies donated to Women's Shelter and Second Stage Housing. 

Donated excess Christmas decorations to other neighboring communities like Port Stanley and Belmont.

Donated one of our artificial trees to the Vanier Community School in London, Ontario.

Supplied information to other communities on how to get started with their own Christmas Light festivals like Charlottetown, P.E.I., Thunder Bay, Newmarket and the Halton Region of Ontario.


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