Christmas in the Park to kick off festive season in Orangeville

November 28, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Baker

Orangeville’s very own winter wonderland will officially open up to the public next Friday (Dec. 6).

Returning for its 27th year in the community, the popular Christmas in the Park has long served as one of the official kick-offs to the festive period in town. Hosted by the Optimist Club of Orangeville, the annual extravaganza packs Kay Cee Gardens, located between Bythia Street and John Street, with an incredible array of Christmas-themed displays, topped off with more than 60,000 bright Christmas lights. 

The event is completely free to the community, and runs from Dec. 7 to Dec. 31. 

“Christmas in the Park is always our biggest event of the year. It’s the one we’re always most excited about,” said Michael Chezy, a long-time member of the local Optimist Club, and Christmas in the Park volunteer. “This is an event that has really resonated with the community, to the point that it’s now a staple of lot of families’ Christmas celebrations. It’s a tradition we’re proud to maintain.”

He added, “This event provides the community with an opportunity to come together. It allows people to get into the Christmas spirit, and really kicks off the holiday season in town.”

Popular attractions such as the ‘Who’s in Whoville’ display, Santa in the Gazebo, and even the Peruvian alpacas are set to return this year. When asked to provide something of a sneak peek into any new displays, Mr. Chezy confirmed there’s one exciting addition.

“Violet, the big seven-foot, sparking reindeer we debuted last year, has had a baby,” Mr. Chezy told the Citizen. “So, alongside Violet, we’ll also have baby Fern on hand this year, which we’re really excited about.”

In total, since the beginning of November, Mr. Chezy estimates Optimist club members, working alongside other local volunteers, have spent approximately 500 hours transforming the 2.6-acre Kay Cee Gardens into Christmas in the Park. 

While the Optimists today serve as stewards of Christmas in the Park, the event was actually pioneered by the Orangeville and District Seniors Centre back in 1993, with the Optimists adopting it in 1996. Over the past 23 years, the group has worked hand in hand with various community volunteers and sponsors to make one of Orangeville premiere festive events everything it is today. 

Last year, around 22,000 people passed through the gates of Kay Cee Gardens during the month-long celebration. Mr. Chezy is confident of at least maintaining that number once again this year.

Going over the schedule for opening night, which always takes place on the first Friday of December, Mr. Chezy noted the park will open at 6:30 p.m. Visitors will be welcomed in by new and improved displays, with the popular Peruvian alpacas a short walk inside. Complimentary hot chocolate will be served on site. At 6:45 p.m. sharp, the Theatre Orangeville Youth Singers (T.O.Y.S.) will take centre stage, before greetings and speeches are brought by local dignitaries at 7 p.m. A 10-second countdown to the lights being switched on will commence at 7:15 p.m., with the Orangeville Music Theatre performing at 7:30 p.m.

“We have a fantastic night lined up next Friday. I feel we’re very fortunate here in Orangeville, because not a lot of communities have an event like this. This is something that is really unique,” Mr. Chezy said. “For us (at the Optimist club), it’s all about tradition, and for a lot of families in Orangeville, Christmas in the Park is one of their big traditions. If you haven’t had the opportunity to check this out yet, if you’re new to town, come on down to Kay Cee Gardens – you won’t be disappointed.”

While much of the focus right now is on ensuring opening night goes off without a hitch, the Optimist Club is working to ensure there’s something going on almost every night at Christmas in the Park. Santa Claus himself will be on hand on Friday (Dec. 6), Saturday (Dec. 7) and Sunday (Dec. 8) from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. He will also be available daily from Dec. 13 through to Christmas Eve, again from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. 

New this year, Noelle the Elf will have a photo booth set up in the pergola on Dec. 16 and Dec. 17. During her stay in Orangeville, Noelle has assured organizers that anyone taking a photo will be able to have their picture printed on site. This service is operating on a donation basis, with all money collected to benefit children spending Christmas at Headwaters Health Care Centre. 

The full schedule is still to be released, although Mr. Chezy noted there will be various entertainers on hand over the course of December, including T.O.Y.S., the Orangeville Youth Chorus and the Traveling Wannabes musical act. Attendees will be treated to complimentary hot chocolate on a nightly basis, served by the Third Orangeville Scouts, Fourth Orangeville Scouts and the Journey Church Youth Choir. 

“Christmas in the Park is a nice celebration of the holiday season, that can be appreciated by people young and old,” said Tina Clare of the Optimist Club of Orangeville. “There’s no better time of year than Christmas, and we’re excited to welcome thousands of people through the gates at Kay Cee Gardens for another festive spectacle in 2019.”

Christmas in the Park will run nightly from Dec. 7 to Dec. 31. While opening night will run on its own schedule, the park will be open from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. for the rest of the month. For more information, search ‘Orangeville Christmas in the Park 2019’ on Facebook. 


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