This Christmas season, Maple Ridge residents can expect something new coming to town that will bring them some holiday cheer.
City tourism coordinator Kathryn Baird and her team have been working behind the scenes to introduce Maple Ridge: Glow, a new four-week town core marketing platform to showcase Christmas and winter-themed, family-friendly events and activities.
“What we want to do is develop Maple Ridge as an annual, must-attend destination at Christmas … and in that way increase resident and visitor visits to the urban centre, have them spend a little more time in the core having some fun,” said Baird.
The team behind the campaign believes tourism can have social, cultural and environmental benefits.
“Tourism is a rapidly growing industry in B.C.,” Baird added.
She recently learned that Vancouver is at tourism capacity for hotels and restaurants. She said that city sees 10 million visitors a year.
“Which is a lot for a city that has a population of 600,000, so they’re at capacity and they’re looking out to the region for what they termed ‘second city’… they want to help support tapping into the $18 billion-a-year provincial industry.”
Glow in Maple Ridge will feature many favourites from years past, such as the Santa parade, CPR Holiday Train, Christmas tree lighting, as well as some new elements in partnership with the local business improvement association and chamber of commerce.
The Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association is donating a string of lights to all businesses in its catchment to help them get started decorating storefronts for a holiday contest that begins Nov. 28.
“So we hope the businesses can have some fun with decorating and maybe we can create an old-fashion Christmas village,” said Baird.
The BIA is also enhancing the Christmas tree display by adding motion-activated Christmas lights, so when the tree is lit on Dec. 7 and a choir begins to sing, those lights will be activated, Baird explained.
“And another thing we’re working on with the BIA is we’re putting in some speakers on 224th Street in the Spirit Square block for some background holiday music, just to create a quiet festival feel 24/7,” she added.
“It’ll just feel warm and inviting.”
Starting in December, Thursdays to Sundays the public will also see community concerts on the bandstand in Memorial Peace Park.
The chamber of commerce will set up photo cut-outs for people to take pictures and during some events and a food truck will be on site.
“It can bring jobs to Maple Ridge, it can support the restaurants, support our agro-tourism, it can support our events, it can highlight our indigenous heritage and culture,” Baird explained about the holiday season re-branding.
“So that’s what we’re doing, we’re wanting to tap into some of that energy.”
A complete schedule of all the holiday cheer coming to town will be made available in late November.