Windsor

Bright Lights Windsor festival lights up the sky Friday night

The Bright Lights Windsor festival comes after a controversial decision by city council to spend $1.5 million on lights. Originally, council approved $3 million before deciding to cut the budget in half.

'let's do something that's free for families, let's do something that's exciting'

The light show at Jackson Park will be on full displace starting at 6:30 p.m. December 8, 2017. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Tonight the city is inviting everyone to attend the first Bright Lights Windsor festival at Jackson Park.

The festival comes after a controversial decision by city council to spend $1.5 million on lights. Originally, council approved $3 million before deciding to cut the budget in half.

"We did receive a little criticism after the flood, because the timing on this was admittingly very horrible," said Mayor Drew Dilkens.

The vote came a day before Windsor's worst flood in the city's history. 

"That's why we scaled back the funding, just to reflect the fact that there are people hurting in our community," he said.

Take a sneak peek at the $1.5M holiday lights display at Jackson Park before it officially opens at 6:30 p.m. Friday. 0:53

Dilkens said the $1.5 million spent on the free public event comes from $1 million from Enwin, $500,000 from Caesar's Windsor and "other additional funds from the city to get things off the ground."

"We're going to have a good show this year," he said. "Next year when we spend the rest of the money and ramp up the event it will be a spectacular show."

Getting feedback from the community is expected by the mayor. He said in his 11 years as a municipally elected official he's received e-mail asking why there is no light show in Windsor.

"So in honour of our Windsor 125 anniversary and a wrap-up of Windsor 125, we said 'let's do something that's free for families, let's do something that's exciting,'" said Dilkens.

Listen to the full interview from Windsor Morning

Jackson Park may not be the official lights festival spot for long. He said there are plans once the city moves into the new city hall to have lights going from the new building to the riverfront.

"Of course it'll take time, money and several years to get there, but for the next couple of year Jackson Park we thought is the most logical place to start," Dilkens said.

The smaller-scaled version of what was planned will officially light up on Dec. 8 at 6:30 p.m. Parking is available around Jackson Park. Dilkens said there are about 400 parking spaces, including the lot at Kennedy Collegiate.

"We're going to monitor this and if we have to recalibrate next year and offer a shuttle service we're prepared to do that."