Kelowna Lights Up for holiday season
If the glass is half full, Kelowna's double-digit Saturday temperature made for an enjoyable afternoon at the 24th annual Downtown Kelowna Light Up.
If the glass is half empty, that sunny weather prevented the community from taking part in the winter tradition of ice skating at the Stuart Park outoor rink for a good portion of the day.
"The rink (closure) is obviously a little disappointing, but I'd take sunshine over a rainy, cloudy day," said Ryan Watters, communications manager for the Downtown Kelowna Association.
"I'm very happy with the turnout."
Friday evening the outdoor ice surface was officially opened. Early bird skaters took advantage of the ice Saturday morning, but crews were forced to close it before noon due to the warm weather.
Even though the rink was closed, residents still came out to take part in one of the many aspects the event had to offer.
In the morning, the Kelowna Rockets organization set up street hockey games outside Prospera Place; the Kelowna Art Gallery helped participants create starlight lanterns; the Okanagan Regional Library featured story time; Towne Centre Mall featured a clown and balloon artist and offered face painting.
In the afternoon musical entertainment was featured at Stuart Park, aspiring musicians took part in a musical petting zoo at Rotary Centre for the Arts, holiday movies went on the big screen at Paramount Theatre and Santa Claus made an appearance at Laurel Packinghouse.
Watters said this was the first year organizers utilized the packinghouse for the light up event.
"That space is so big that having Santa and the cookie decorating in there just gives you more breathing room."
At 6 p.m. the main event took place with Santa on hand to light up Kelowna's downtown.
The Downtown Kelowna Light Up marks the start of a busy shopping season for Kelowna residents. To help accommodate those shoppers, it is free to park downtown on Saturdays for the rest of 2012.
Next year will be a milestone 25th year for the Downtown Kelowna Light Up.
Watters said they've yet to begin planning for that event but anticipates it will be "bigger and better" than this year.