Armstrong lights up the holiday season Thursday

Armstrong Spallumcheen Downtown Light Up themed It's a Small World

The Christmas season in Armstrong-Spallumcheen kicks off with a multicultural theme.

The annual Armstrong Spallumcheen Downtown Light Up helps kick off Christmas in the region on Thursday.

“Our theme this year is It’s a Small World,” said Patti Noonan, executive director of the Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a multicultural theme so we’re encouraging all businesses to have multicultural decorations or things that are global.”

Events for the big light up actually commence Thursday morning when kids from Armstrong’s schools will decorate the big Christmas tree at the corner of Okanagan Street and Pleasant Valley Road beside Margarieta’s Place.

The decorating runs throughout the day and when the kids are finished, they receive a treat bag courtesy of downtown merchants which will be delivered by a “special guest.”

As the decorating goes on, some of the downtown stores will be having light up day specials. The Brown Derby will play host to the Mostly Minis’ mini goats from its petting zoo.

At 4 p.m., activities will begin in the area of Spirit Square, including cookie decorating. B.C. Hydro will be on-hand to discuss its LightSmart program, and the Royal Canadian Legion will be cooking up hot dogs and hamburgers.

The light-up’s main event – the annual parade, featuring Santa Claus, will start with marshalling at 5:15 p.m.

The nighttime parade, the only one of its kind in the region, starts promptly at 6 p.m.

The parade route starts at the back of the Village Cheese Company and goes down Pleasant Valley to Shepherd’s (Home Hardware), down to Margarieta’s, makes the loop and goes down the other side of the one-way to the police station.

“Santa Claus, who will be riding on a fire truck, will make another half-loop back to Spirit Square,” said Noonan.

Santa will hop off the fire truck and throw the switch to officially light up the downtown and announce Christmas has come to Armstrong and Spallumcheen.

“It’s getting bigger every year,” said Noonan of the light up festival and parade. “We figure most of  the people in Armstrong come out for it.”

The 2011 crowd for the parade was estimated at between 1,000 and 1,500 people.

After Santa Claus lights up the town, there will be a chance for kids to visit with him at Spirit Square. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, however, Santa will move to one of the downtown restaurants in order to visit with the children.

Those planning on attending light up are asked to dress for the weather.

“It (weather) is unpredictable at this time of year,” said Noonan. “We could have clear skies, we could have rain or we could have a snow storm. So come prepared.”

There are several new entries in this year’s parade, and the chamber has donated several new strings of lights for the light up.

Santa Claus will stick around for part of the weekend to kick off Christmas celebrations.

He’ll be at the Leaf and Bean from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Many of the downtown merchants will also have specials and sales throughout the kickoff weekend.