5 Star Light Show - Rossland Scores High in Winter Lights Competition

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
February 26th, 2009

As locals and anyone who has ever visited Rossland in the winter know, our little mountain town comes alive in the winter and its breathtaking beauty really shines through with a coating of snow for the city lights to sparkle off of. This past Saturday in Prince George our winter beauty was officially confirmed by the judges of the Winter Lights competition, with Rossland tying for second place with a five star out of a possible five star ranking.

Now into its eighth edition, Winter Lights Celebrations is the winter edition of the popular Communities in Bloom program. During the months of November and December, trained volunteer judges evaluated the participating communities on the program’s five criteria: Visual Presentation, Festive Season Celebrations, Winter Pleasures, Goodwill Programs and Tourism and Promotion, awarding points for each.

“It’s not just about the lights,” explained Community in Blooms president Raymond Carrière. “It’s also about involving the community and goodwill programs. It’s also about participating in events and it’s also about promoting your community because the whole intent and purpose of the program from the outset eight years ago was to showcase communities during the winter months outside of the normal skiing and standard icon winter activities so that people will want to travel or to visit or–gee whiz–participate in their own community at an event. “

Competing in the competition for the first time this year, Rossland was entered in the ‘cities under 10,000 people’ category along with Carbonear, Cow Head and Torbay in Newfoundland and Chetwynd, Valemount and Armstrong in BC. Armstrong, also rated with 5 stars, was the category winner with a higher overall point score.

“We were really surprised at how well we did in the first year,” said Tourism Rossland Executive Director Deanne Steven. “It was all new to us so we didn’t have a lot to draw on so we were really, really pleased to see that we did so well.

Judges Tina Myers from Niagra Falls and Lisa Redpath from Prince George visited Rossland for two days in early December during the Rekindle the Spirit event to take in all of the festivities, tour the town, and judge Rossland before moving on and visiting the other towns and cities in the category.

“Lisa and I had a wonderful time in Rossland,” recalled Myers in a phone conversation earlier this week. “We had an opportunity to go to the various events going on that weekend during the Rekindle The Spirit event and we loved that. We loved the Victorian theme. With the Reindeer Prance, it seemed the children really took ownership, and we loved that. Another event that really stuck out was the Betty Go Hard event to raise money for Breast Cancer. We thought that was a wonderful way to get women involved for a charity and promote active living. Rossland is a remarkable example of a winter community.”

Along with providing more motivation to beef up the Rekindle event as well as add to the decorative lights in the downtown core, the Winter Lights competition also provides exposure and promotion opportunities for Rossland. As a competitor and five star award winner, Rossland will be featured along with a photo in the Winter Lights magazine that will be distributed across the country.

“Definitely, it gets us more exposure,” explained Steven. “They have a section on the website (www.winterlights.ca) where they list all of the results and they also do a lot of media promotions for us. It’s just another great way to get our name out there. We are so picturesque and gorgeous in the winter that it would be neat to have tourists come here in the winter just to see that.”

Encouraged by the results Rossland, will definitely be competing again next year with an eye to taking the top prize. “The Judges gave us thirteen pages of comments and suggestions that we’re looking forward to going through with the committee. We’ll be getting together in October to strategize about what we want to do to change for next year and to get more community involvement,” noted Steven. “We’re really looking for more people to get involved with this as it is all run by volunteers and we need some more people to give us a hand and some ideas as well.”

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