The Winter Village took days to decorate, the trees wrapped in lights right next to Lakeshore Drive took three people two days to cover the trunks and branches last year. This year, more lights are expected to cover the trees along Lakeshore Drive. File Photo

The Christmas Passport encourage shopping local in Sylvan Lake

The Christmas Passport works with the Winter Village, which will turn on Dec. 1

The Sylvan Lake Chamber of Commerce is introducing a new holiday endeavour which encourages residents to shop local with a Christmas Passport.

The Chamber has introduced the new initiative with two goals in mind: shop local and light up the town.

READ MORE: Winter village will light up the park

Sylvan Lakers vote on Winter Village planters

According to Denise Bryan-Williams, the executive director of the Sylvan Lake Chamber of Commerce, the program isn’t necessarily a new idea, but is one that has been used by others to encourage businesses and locals to stay local.

“Our Winter Village committee felt it would be a great way to get the businesses involved in illuminating the Town and add to the overall impact,” Bryan-Williams said in an email.

Normally, other municipalities attach a price tag for businesses wishing to participate however, Sylvan Lake Chamber made it free for businesses who agree to light-up their business.

There are around 50 businesses who are participating in the new endeavour this year, and will have light displays up on the exterior of their businesses, according to Bryan-Williams.

The big goal of the new program is to keep locals shopping in their own backyard.

“We have two goals with this program: the first is to provide an incentive for the public to think local when they are spending this season. The second is to encourage businesses all over Sylvan Lake to light up the exterior of their business.”

When you shop at a participating business between Nov. 16 and Dec. 20, each $10 spent will earn a stamp in the passport.

A full passport can be dropped off at a participating business or at the Chamber office for a chance to win a $750 travel voucher.

The draw for the voucher will be made on Dec. 21.

The new passport program is working in tandem with the Waterfront Revitalization Committee’s, a joint Chamber/Town committee, Winter Village.

The village came out of a “strategic plan to revitalize Sylvan Lake during the winter months,” Bryan-Williams says.

An area on the pier is lit up with strings of lights to create a new place for people to gather, while also being close to nearby businesses.

“The intent of the Winter Village is to create a platform for new events that draw people to the area as we embrace the winter months,” said Bryan-Williams.

Bryan-Williams says to expect different programming at the Winter Village during the weekends, especially during December.

School choirs be carolling at the village each Friday beginning at 6 p.m., with the exception of the first Friday in December.

“We added more planters to the planter parade, there are permanent fire-pits installed, more trees, a regularly scheduled light show set to music, bonfire nights, some hosted by local businesses –more lights, lights, lights,” Bryan-Williams said, adding she doesn’t want to give everything away.

The lights at the village will turn on following the fireworks on Dec. 1.

“Everyone should come down for the official light up after the fireworks December 1st when we do the countdown and flip the switch. It really is magical and the energy of the crowd is part of that magic.”

The Winter Village is entirely funded through donations and sponsorships. This year the Waterfront Revitalization Committee donated $10,000, with the rest of the funding coming from local businesses.

The lights at the village turn on Dec. 1 and will stay on nightly for three months.

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