A venerable Christmas tradition is no more.
For two decades, Bredenbury, Saskatchewan has put on a show of Christmas lights that propelled the town of 329 people 40 kilometres southeast of Yorkton to national and even international acclaim.
At its height the Bredenbury Christmas Lights Annual Extravaganza, attracted thousands of visitors to the cozy community. In 2001, 2002 and 2005, Bredenbury was chosen tops among towns with populations less than 1,000 in the national Winter Lights Celebrations competition.
This year, however, there will be no light up ceremony Dec. 1. In the spring, the Christmas Lights Committee voted to disband and cancel the annual festival.
“The main reason for disbanding was that the committee and readily available volunteer workforce had dwindled to a handful from the once boisterous 40 to 60 members and volunteers,” said Ken Morrison the last to hold the position of president of the committee.
Morrison also cited the ever-increasing cost of materials and power and decreasing availability of donations.
Kara Molnar is a long-time Yorkton resident who used to make the trek to Bredenbury every year.
“It is disappointing,” she said. “It was quite something to see a whole town lit up. It was one of the few things that kind of marked the occasion and gave you something to look forward to.”
While the town’s decorations will be a toned down version of their former glory, another biannual Bredenbury tradition is still on. The CP Holiday Train will be stopping in the town December 4 at 12:45 p.m.
Entertainers on the train at the Bredenbury stop this year are Doc Walker and Melanie Doane.
In its 14-year history the Holiday Train program—there is also a U.S. train—has traveled 140,000 kilometres, raised $74 million and collected more than 300,000 pounds of food for North American food banks.
All the money raised in the communities the trains visit, remain in those communities.
In a prepared statement, the Bredenbury Christmas Lights Committee were grateful for the support they have received over the years from both outside and inside the community.
“The final members of the committee would like to thank all the past sponsors and financial contributors, all the many people that visited our town to view the displays and donate but mostly we’d like to thank all the many people of Bredenbury who worked so many long and sometimes cold hours setting up the lights and displays,” Morrison wrote.
“The Committee wishes to extend a special mention and thank you to Glen Cowan who was the main organizing force over the years for the committee and its president until his failing health forced his retirement. He remained active on the committee until his passing.”