Jeff Heuchert email@example.com
Tom Patterson Island will shine brightest on winter's darkest day.
New year-round lighting has been installed on the local landmark that will be unveiled at 5 p.m. this Sunday, Dec. 21 - what's otherwise known as the winter solstice, marking the longest night of the year.
Organizer Brad Beatty said the public can expect a very "Stratford-esque" display.
The LED lights used are all white, chosen for their appropriateness during each season.
"It's going to be very classical looking," Beatty told the Gazette earlier this week. "I think it's going to be something that Stratford will be proud of."
On Monday, electrician Bill Vosper was hard at work burying electrical wires and setting up small floodlights at the base of select trees on the island. Beatty said trees were identified with the assistance of parks staff on all sides of the island to ensure the lights have a full 360 degree effect. Additionally, rope LED lighting will be installed on the island's bridge this spring after repairs to the bridge are completed.
The lighting is a joint initiative of two Stratford committees, Civic Beautification and Environmental Awareness (CBEAC) and Communities in Bloom (CIB), that are each celebrating special milestone anniversaries in 2014.
CBEAC is marking a quarter century of service to the community while the CIB committee marks 20 years of participation in the national program, for which it has repeatedly brought home top honours for Stratford.
Beatty, who chairs both committees, said the groups wanted to do something special to commemorate the anniversaries that also spoke to their shared commitments to beautification and environmental awareness in the community. He noted that the LED bulbs used on the island are environmentally friendly and can remain lit throughout the year for a minimal cost.
The island is part of a larger plan that includes new seasonal lighting for along the river that will move ahead as funds become available. Beatty said the groups, by getting Tom Patterson Island shining first, hope that the public will see what they're trying to accomplish and get behind the project by making a donation.
"We really wanted to make a great statement right out of the gate," he added.
Other projects that have been organized and supported by the two committees include the Pumpkin Parade, the Swan Parade, Green Week, and Stratford in Bloom. Last year, thanks to a sizable private donation, CBEACA also had 2,500 new lights installed on the holiday tree in front of city hall.