Christmas Light Tour a solid Campbell River Yuletide tradition

Tom McKenzie of the Lions Club said he’s already had people calling to ask about the tour

One of Campbell River’s longest-standing Christmas traditions is back for its 30th year this December.

The annual Christmas Light Tour, which takes people of all ages by the biggest and brightest displays in town via the city bus, takes place this year on Sunday, Dec. 9.

The tour, which is co-ordinated by the Willow Point Lions in partnership with Campbell River Transit, is always in high demand and Tom McKenzie of the Lions Club said he’s already had people calling to ask about the tour.

The event has come a long way since its beginnings in 1982, when it was started by the local transit manager John Leavitt. Leavitt had arrived in Campbell River from the Lower Mainland, where the public transportation system partnered with BC Ferries to do its own Christmas light tour to accommodate seniors and disabled persons who couldn’t get around on their own to look at the lights.

“People would hop on the ferry and they had buses on each side, one that took people around Nanaimo and one that drove around Horseshoe Bay,” McKenzie said.

Levitt found the event to be so successful that he figured he would give it a try in Campbell River.

In the beginning the tour was exclusive to people with disabilities and seniors but it evolved and eventually grew to include the entire community.

It started with transit’s three or four public buses and a couple of school buses. To put that into perspective, last year BC Transit was forced to use all seven of its local buses to serve the 350 people who attended the tour.

This year, McKenzie expects to have roughly the same turnout. Buses will take participants, free of charge, around the Cambridge Estates area in Willow Point and hop over to McLean and 2nd Avenue.

Weather dependent, the bus will also make a stop by arguably Campbell River’s most famous light display – on the corner of Merecroft and McLean.

In 1986 the house won a trophy sponsored by Campbell River Transit and the Chamber of Commerce for the best overall Christmas lights. Packing the family or friends up in the car to take a drive by the house with the ‘Merry Ho Ho’ sign and the nativity scene set up on the lawn have become a Campbell River Christmas tradition.

The Christmas Light Tour leaves the Sportsplex at 7 p.m. and takes about 45 minutes to an hour. Everyone is then invited back to Sportsplex for coffee, pop, and doughnuts starting at 8 p.m.

For more information call Campbell River transit at 250-287-7433.