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West Broadway is a wonderful neighborhood in Winnipeg, MB. It has cool shops, a down-to-earth vibe, a great sense of community – and it can now add elegant, one-of-a-kind tree lights to its repertoire.
When we learned that the West Broadway BIZ had a vision to create a white lights project we simply had to be involved. Light projects in public spaces can transform an area and generate goodwill and excitement, which we love. The question was: what kind of lights best fit the personality of the neighborhood?
After looking at a few options (some of which are at our gallery page on our new website), they decided on a sphere with a natural, refined look which we had designed and built locally. Don’t believe me? We have proof! That’s none other than company owner Terrell instructing the team.
Following the design process and after taking our lumps in the design and build portions of the project – believe me there were lumps, like where the heck do you store 220 giant spheres – the installation went smoothly. Everybody was impressed with the finished look of the project.
The BIZ ended up ordering over 220 of the decorations of varying sizes – enough to create a unified theme along 8 blocks, in front of many businesses. Decorations typically numbered between 5 and 9 per tree, depending on the size of the tree. Several “showcase” trees were chosen at specifically chosen locations and had 13 to 15 decorations, such as the one below, at one of the entrances to the neighborhood.
We are grateful to the West Broadway BIZ for the opportunity to work with them in this project. Certainly can’t wait to add to it in the Spring!
Aaaand finally, as promised in the title: an amazing video about the project put together by the West Broadway BIZ!
Mike and I knew Paul Jordan because we are members of the Riel Gentlemen’s Choir. The choir had spent a day in eight canoes paddling the Assiniboine downstream towards Winnipeg. We sang many songs this day and of course would put on a concert whenever another vessel would pass. One such (un)lucky patron of this concert series was Paul Jordan, Chief Operating Officer of The Forks Renewal Corporation. Many songs sung at The Forks seemed to follow immediately after this – and by invitation too.
A year and a few York boats later, Mike and I stroll into The Forks offices with a lighting proposal. We came out of this meeting with a budget amount and two restrictions:
1. Make it look good.
2. Don’t screw it up.
In winter, The Forks, named so because it is the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, turns these frozen waterways into the world’s longest ice-skating trail which features hockey and curling rinks, beer gardens, fashion shows, music venues, a rugby field, an international architectural competition for warming huts, and a 30 seat five-course restaurant. Yes, all on the ice. The Forks is Winnipeg’s number one tourist destination with more than four million visitors annually and The Forks Renewal Corp does a fantastic job of supervising what takes place at this 6000 year old meeting place.
Humbled and challenged by our two restrictions, we set to work designing and assembling a canopy of lights that would suspend above visitors walking, cycling, or skating across the Assiniboine River on the old Bascule bridge. We chose to make a gradient using the colours of Hudson’s Bay Company blankets as a reference to the Canadian fur trade, during the height of which the Assiniboine and the Red were kept busy as transport routes.
It took us one day to prepare the lights and cables, and five days to install. The result, 2600 LED’s hanging over the entire length and width bridge; 330 feet x 30 feet.
In Winnipeg, winter nights can last upwards of 17 hours, and it takes a resilient population to endure the entire season. This makes light a valued tool that allows the public to stay active and claim winter as a time for civic and artistic celebration. The Forks Renewal Corporation understands this and is a wonderful group to work with. They are an organization that exists to serve the community and is an example of what makes Winnipeg such a vibrant place to be.
The above picture is of over 40 boxes of brand new, unopened Christmas lights – all discovered in a garbage bin behind a major retailer here in Winnipeg. Isn’t that a little crazy? And to think I was kicking myself for missing out on $14.99 each sale price back in December….
The fact is, I took a closer look at these lights and they pretty much ARE garbage. The plastic bulb coverings come off with little pressure (which is annoying and doesn’t look good) but most importantly the LED itself can become loose and cause the ENTIRE strand to go out. This is an archaic design that I’m sure is cheap to produce but you don’t want to pay real money for. Can you imagine hanging these on an outdoor tree and the top strand goes out on a -25C? This happens. A lot.
In my years of experience installing Christmas lights professionally the trend I’ve witnessed from major retailers is toward poor quality. For example, Canadian Tire, which used to sell lights of respectable quality, began selling lights that in my opinion started bordering on garbage. The NOMA box remains the same but that’s about it. Wal-mart continues to supply some of the worst lights I’ve seen. I believe people go to stores like these and try and buy quality but are essentially taken in by lipstick on a pig, as my dad would say.
Yes, I am more than suspicious of the so-called 3 and 5-year warranties on the boxes of these lights but that is another blog post for another time…. like what good is it to have a 5-year warranty if you have to take down the lights after one year and hope you saved the receipt and, yes, even the box the lights came in.
On a positive note, LED technology is advancing every year and if you buy from suppliers that stand for quality you get your money’s worth and more. That’s what we have done and we’ve never been happier.
Besides, we love lights too much to help fill dumpsters with them.
Lisa and Chris Young, East St. Paul
Claudia B., Winnipeg
Vickie H., Whyte Ridge
Debbie S., Charleswood
Paul Jordan, COO
The Forks Renewal Corp.
Denise S., Headingley, MB
Devan Graham, Winnipeg
Bill G., St. James, Winnipeg, MB
Susi Neault, St. Andrews, MB
Tammy and Mike Keane