Hundreds made it through the second annual Campground Christmas set up at the Hay River Territorial Park over the weekend.
Organizers reported more than 100 vehicles driving through each night of Dec. 3, 4 and 5 to see festive Christmas light displays.
Tanya Morais, who was among the volunteers working the weekend to make the event a success, said that all 25 campsites were filled with light displays from either businesses, individuals or organizations.
“We had a spectacular turnout this year and the initial count of dollars in donations is approaching close to $6,000” for the town’s Christmas hamper fund, she said.
“That is absolutely amazing. Hay River has really come out in terms of both the community’s support from those that rented the sites and then also the amount of support we’ve heard from the wonderful people coming in to view the lights. It has just been tremendous.”
Morais said the weekend also provided an opportunity for people to drop off non-perishable food items for the town’s food bank program as well as those that left toys for Hay River’s Secret Santa.
All drivers and walkers were given ballots to vote on their favourite light display and results were still being tallied on Sunday evening, however Morais said there were close to 2,000 ballots.
“Our team will tally all of the votes over the next couple of days,” she said. “The winner gets, of course, the biggest prize, which is the bragging rights, but they’ll also get a framed professional photo of their site to put up in their home or office to celebrate their win.”
This year’s event follows the inaugural year last year after Judy West-Pratt saw a similar concept at the Northern Spirit Light Show at Evergreen Park in Grande Prairie, Alta. West-Pratt and Linda Carter spearheaded the idea.
West-Pratt has since retired and moved away from the community, however she had returned this past week and weekend to help with volunteer efforts, set up lights and greet people who came through.
“Everything from the Brownie troop to school groups to individuals had sites out there as well as many Hay River businesses,” Morais said. “There was so much effort put into this. It’s a great chance to kick off the Christmas season without putting a lot of pressure on individuals to do it because you can load your family up in a car and go around and have a look at all the beautiful Christmas lights and really start the season on a high note,” she said.