Lights on the Gorge may be all carols and hot chocolate, but there is a larger purpose at work amid the fun and revelry: community building.
“The idea behind what we do is to create spaces … that will draw people together for some purpose,” said co-organizer Gabe Epstein. “In this case the purpose is to create a space that people can come, have a good time, meet your neighbours and make music.”
This is the second year for the Gorge-Tillicum area community event, which is intended to be bigger than a block party but still small enough to be neighbourhood-focused.
The idea stems from the old tradition of neighbours getting together to sing Christmas carols. The Canada Day Gorge Picnic provided the second source of inspiration.
Another catalyst for the event was the United Way of Greater Victoria’s Community Table initiative, a program which encourages building healthy neighbourhoods.
Involvement with the initiative resulted in the Gorge Tillicum Community Table, and a grant to get the event up and running.
“We don’t want 10,000 people. We want something smaller, where neighbours can come say hello to each other,” Epstein said.
The first Lights on the Gorge event drew about 200 neighbours, despite cold, rainy weather.
This year the event is back, still free and with plenty of reasons for neighbours to attend.
Microphones will be set up for anyone to play music. Last year local musicians performed, along with a church choir.
“So people just sang and they jammed together,” Epstein said. “People not only come to be entertained, they come to contribute to the place. We’ll create the space, you make the magic.”
There will also be roasted chestnuts, hot chocolate, apple cider, baked goods and the Quicksbottom Morris dance troop, weather permitting. The Christmas lights that give the event its name will also be shining brightly.
The event takes place on Sunday from 3:30 to 6 p.m. in the parking lot next to the Victoria Canoe and Kayak Club near the intersection of Gorge and Tillicum roads.
Check out gorgetillicum.ca for more.