Christmas is coming early for City of Windsor staff as parcels filled with holiday displays, lights and decor have already begun arriving to transform Jackson Park into a $1.5 million "winter wonderland."
Whether there's snow or not, the city plans to revamp the Queen Elizabeth Sunken Gardens with flashy, festive props including a massive Christmas tree in the center fountain equipped with programmable lights.
Santa's sleigh is expected to be parked on the grounds, along with a mailbox for letters addressed to St. Nick. The surrounding trees will also be decked out with a combination of lights and speakers playing holiday tunes.
"We have some other displays, a giant polar bear, but I don't want to give it all away, I want to leave some surprises," said Jan Wilson, the city's executive director of recreation and culture. "There will be a lot of opportunity for some interactive things."
Families will also be able to cozy up with some hot chocolate and other holiday treats.
Community members wanted budget cut
Setup is expected to take anywhere from four to six weeks. Wilson said staff plan to open the display by the second week in December and it will run "likely towards the end of January."
It's a scaled-back version of what was originally planned with a $3-million budget. That was axed in half by Mayor Drew Dilkens after the city experienced its worst flooding event in history — affecting more than 6,600 homes in the region.
Outrage erupted with many residents saying the money earmarked for Christmas lights should be spent elsewhere. An online petition even garnered more than 6,100 signatures.
Wilson said had the city gone ahead with a $3-million budget, the festivities would have expanded outside of the Sunken Gardens.