Clarington’s Soper Creek WILD Winter festival of lights brightening holiday spirits for third year

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Published December 12, 2022 at 4:11 pm

Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue’s annual WILD Winter festival of lights with its roots in the pandemic is back for a third year this month, with the drive-through holiday light experience in Clarington running until December 23.

Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue, as well as local businesses, community organizers, farmers and families have made the WILD Winter Festival of Lights Durham’s new holiday tradition since the first festival was put on at the Orono Fairgrounds in 2020.

This year’s festival returns to the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park north of Bowmanville, where $50,000 was raised last year for the Super Sophia Project, Rays of Sunshine Everywhere (ROSE), JumpStart Canada and Olivia’s Elves. As well, 10,000 pounds of non-perishable food items was collected for local food banks.

Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue organized and executed the first drive-through WILD Winter Festival of Lights two years ago at the height of the pandemic to spread holiday cheer when so many holiday events had been canceled.

“All Santa Claus parades were canceled, the local tractor parade couldn’t run and most malls had even removed their ‘letters to Santa’ boxes,” Soper Creek said on their website. “The WILD Winter Festival of Lights not only brightened our communities’ spirits but also was able to fundraise for Durham Region’s only wildlife hospital, St. Joseph’s Food Bank, Clarington East Food Bank, St. Vincent de Paul and other community organizations and local families that had been extremely affected by COVID-19.”

In just four weeks, Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue and their crew of family and volunteers designed, constructed and executed what was in the first year a three-day event. It consisted of 50 community displays, including two Monster Trucks, 75 inflatables, 50 displays and more than half a million lights.

Santa made an appearance with Canada Post collecting letters from children and 501, a Disney-recognized Star Wars unit, came out with Storm Troopers marching through the cars.

This year’s event began December 2 and runs for three weeks until December 23.

Soper Creek Wildlife rescue leader Stefanie MacEwan learned the hard way how popular the event had become after she was bombarded by death threats for cancelling a single evening of the festival last year because of 90 km/hr winds that had become a safety hazard.

Tickets for the festival costs $20.

For more information about the event visit the Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue website.

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