A virtual projection show will replace the traditional tree lighting ceremony in downtown Halifax, as a way to keep crowds at bay because of COVID-19.
The traditional lighting of the tree and the menorah outside city hall in Grand Parade is cancelled. Instead, a virtual show will take place starting Saturday.
The Holiday Projection Show will cover the entire surface of the south wall of city hall. The show will display a live projection of city hall as a virtual gingerbread house, a train, snowflakes, and Christmas gifts. The finale has a fireworks display.
The municipality has also prepared a video, called the Story of the Grand Parade Christmas Tree, featuring Mayor Mike Savage and Mouse, the puppet from Bedford Public Library. It will be available on the municipality’s YouTube page as of Saturday morning.
The virtual show will run every 15 minutes from 4:30 p.m. to 9:45 p.m., every day until Jan. 1. There will be no show on Dec. 6, the anniversary of the Halifax Explosion.
The virtual show costs less than the traditional Grand Parade ceremony, an HRM spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “During a regular year, the budget for the Grand Parade tree lighting is $45,000 with approximately $10,000 of sponsorship included in that total. This year, the budget is $27,000 with sponsorship of only $500.”
Two university students who stopped by Grand Parade Square on Thursday said they’re looking forward to the virtual show. They saw photos of the municipality’s testing of the show on social media.
“It looks like it’s gonna be really nice and really impressive,” said Elizabeth Wolfendensaw.
“It definitely is a big change, but I am really happy to see them bringing it together anyways,” said Corey Auwaerter.
The city is reminding people to follow all public health guidelines, such as wearing a non-medical mask and maintaining a distance of six feet (2 metres) from anyone not within their family group.
The in-person Christmas tree lighting ceremonies in Dartmouth and Sackville are also cancelled. The holiday lightings will be on display in Dartmouth throughout December.
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Zarnigar Khan can be reached for story ideas on her Twitter account @ZarnigarKhan5