“I like my blue trees the best, they’re my signature look,” said Sandy McAfee, park maintenance supervisor and Christmas lights display expert, when asked about the stunning lights display across Stampede Park. McAfee shared that her team, which consist of two core lights-hangers, Kevin Smith and Glen Felt of the Park Maintenance team, as well as four to five additional helpers, bases the lights displays around the locations on Stampede Park. “We use blue and white for the BMO Centre, since those are BMO’s colours, and Stampede colours, red and white, for the Stampede Headquarters Building and main roadway.”
There are approximately 1,100 strings of lights across Stampede Park, each with 70 bulbs. The lights display stretches all areas of Stampede Park from the Main Olympic Entry gate, to the Grandstand, up to the Park & Facility Services Building, and, new this year, into ENMAX Park. “[The new bridge] is being decorated this year for the first time and is going to look wonderful,” McAfee shared.
Also in ENMAX Park, the Christmas lights hung on the lamp posts and along the stage area are Stampede-style, meaning they are brighter and bigger than ever! The largest bulbs span 28 inches large; this Stampede-take on the traditional Christmas lights is a must-see!
With 77,000 lights to display, the Stampede team starts putting up the lights right after Thanksgiving. It takes around six weeks of full-time work to finish this project completely.
McAfee has been doing the Christmas lights display on Stampede Park for 15 of her 17 years as a Stampede employee. 11 of those years have included the Stampede’s green initiative of using only LED lights, replacing all incandescent. “The switch over to LED began around 2005 and took two years to complete,” McAfee explained. “Now the only Christmas lights on Stampede Park are LED.” During the switch-over, McAfee and her team individually took out and replaced every incandescent bulb from the many standing sculptures and hanging ornaments to recycle and reuse the fixtures, such as the light-up reindeer positioned around Stampede Park.
The lights display is something a person has to experience in person to really understand – there are chuckwagons that look like they’re driving because of their spinning wheels, tree-lined lanes that make you feel like you’re part of a holiday movie and more. We invite you to come to Stampede Park and walk through the lights display in person to really get into the holiday spirit.
Tip: Start your tour at the top of Scottsman’s Hill, in Ramsay, the community overlooking Stampede Park. Then walk down the stairs to ENMAX Park, cross Weadick Crossing, and then head over to the rest of Stampede Park!