COLUMN: First year without lighted Christmas scrolls in Penticton

These are the Christmas scrolls that used to shine brightly down Main Street (as pictured here in this undated photo - maybe 1960s) and Riverside Drive as well as Skaha. The popular light display was taken down in 2019 by the city of Penticton because they were becoming a hazard. They were later destroyed. (Phtographer not identified)These are the Christmas scrolls that used to shine brightly down Main Street (as pictured here in this undated photo - maybe 1960s) and Riverside Drive as well as Skaha. The popular light display was taken down in 2019 by the city of Penticton because they were becoming a hazard. They were later destroyed. (Phtographer not identified)
These are the new snowflake Christmas lights down Main Street and the 200 block of Martin St. that the city put up this year. (Brennan Phillips)These are the new snowflake Christmas lights down Main Street and the 200 block of Martin St. that the city put up this year. (Brennan Phillips)

This year marks the first holiday season without the lighted scrolls throughout Penticton.

When the scrolls were taken down in October 2019, residents were upset and had hoped they could be restored and put back up.

Many residents said they wanted to save the lights because they are an iconic piece of the city’s history. Others said they would volunteer their professional services as welders and repair people to help fix them. The city estimated it would cost upwards of $60,000 to repair them.

But in November, the Western News confirmed that the city had thrown them away.

READ MORE: Community rallies to save scrolls

“The scrolls were taken down approximately a year ago due to their poor condition and placed in storage on the understanding that a community led effort would come forward to re-condition them,” said Philip Cooper, city communication manager.

“Once stored, their [the scrolls] status was communicated and efforts were taken to connect directly with concerned citizens. After almost a year without anyone retrieving them, the scrolls were disposed of.”

The “lighted scrolls” were located on Riverside Drive and Skaha Lake Road (near Sudbury Beach) and at one point in time at the entrance to Main Street.

These scrolls had been enjoyed for well over 50 years. The city installed new Christmas lights along Main Street and the 200 block of Martin Street. They sit high on top of the lamp posts and depict snowflakes.

“All the historical things that made Penticton what it was are being done away with,” said one Penticton woman after learning the scrolls had been destroyed.

In other communities like Summerland, Oliver and Peachland, the town hall puts out a huge effort to light the town, city hall, surrounding parks, Main Street, along with other areas.

Summerland’s display is breathtaking as is Peachland and Oliver and Osoyoos. All of these communities host annual Light Up festivals that bring the entire community together.

Penticton does not have anything similar. Maybe it’s time we try?

When asked in November if the city would be doing any more Christmas lights beyond what is put up on Main St. and Martin, they said they would not.

The SS Sicamous is a beautiful addition to the Christmas spirit here in Penticton and its lights and huge lit heart are enjoyed by all. But that is a non-profit charity that puts those lights up, not the city.

Maybe it’s time the city of Penticton invested in a bit more Christmas cheer? There are plenty of opportunities to add more twinkle down Main Street and to light up Lakeshore Drive. The city did light the tree in Nanaimo Square but there are barely any strings of lights on it.

There is huge potential to light up Penticton next Christmas holiday season. Maybe even to start a Light Up festival here. We’ve got the community spirit, we just need the help of city hall.

Why not start now and work towards a magical and lit up Penticton next holiday season?

Monique Tamminga is the editor of the Penticton Western News

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