Community Papers

Old fashioned Christmas in Maple Ridge

The decorations added a festive ambience for the annual Santa Claus Parade on 224th Street, Saturday. - Colleen Flanagan/The News
The decorations added a festive ambience for the annual Santa Claus Parade on 224th Street, Saturday.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/The News

Combine the latest in high-tech LED icicle lights and some old-fashioned decorations from the 1960s and you have Christmas in downtown Maple Ridge.

The combination of old and new is drawing lots of comments on Facebook and elsewhere, says district spokesman Fred Armstrong.

The blend of technologies wasn’t really planned, but it just worked out that way, he explained.

Usually every year the district drags its 55 old candy cane and Christmas bell decorations out of storage and hangs them from light poles along the main streets.

“They were originally purchased by the downtown business improvement association in 1966,” Armstrong said.

But the years took a toll and the plastic had faded and cracked the bells, and the displays were showing their age and becoming a bit hokey.

Then earlier this year, a district employee found the original mold used to make the bells. Those were taken to Northwest Plastics in Port Coquitlam and a new set of bells was made using the molds.

Work crews then rewired and spiffed up the displays, producing a new set of old 1960s decorations for about $5,000.

“When the bells went up, they were bright red again.”

Armstrong said the decorations are unique and harken back to an era 50 years ago.

“Essentially, it’s like we’ve gone back to 1966. This is exactly how they looked in 1966. It’s a Bing Crosby Christmas in Maple Ridge.”

And to ensure the decorations are seen only in Maple Ridge, no other municipality within 200-kilometres can use them.

Any other city that wants to use them outside that range has to pay a small royalty to the District of Maple Ridge.

In addition to the traditional decor, Maple Ridge has also spent $60,000 on streams of icicle lights that hang from tree tops in the downtown. The LED devices have light moving along the vertical tubes, creating the illusion of a dripping icicle.

Those have been hung from the top tree canopy throughout the downtown and Memorial Peace Park and look particularly good in the fog, said Armstrong.

Those were combined with existing strings of LED lights and combine for a total of 3.5 kilometres of lights.

The new energy-efficient lights use less power than the old lights from the 1960s, said Armstrong.

He added that the business association wants to keep some of the lights on beyond Christmas to improve the downtown ambience.

“It helps solidify the new [downtown] space. It sort of ties everything together.”

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