On Friday, Winkler's Tree Lighting Ceremony at Bethel Heritage Park was a magical kickoff to the holiday season. The park, decorated with a captivating display of twinkling lights, became a festive place for families and friends. The evening started at 6:30 PM with a heartwarming opening ceremony, setting the stage for the main event.

"We are a month away from Christmas Eve, and everyone's getting into the holiday season. It's perfect timing, but it's strange not to have snow. I think more than anything it brings the community together, and it's great we can bring the holiday spirit to the community," said Meg Dias, who attended the event.

The crowd eagerly waited for the unveiling of the holiday light display for the park to transform into and captivate everyone with its beautiful glow. Mayor Henry Siemens led the countdown, igniting the park in a stunning display of lights that marked the start of the festive season.

"When the Christmas lights come on, we start getting excited for the Christmas season, there is an anticipation for it. If this is a hard season for you, please know it is okay to be sad, it's okay to grieve, and you don't need to feel guilty when others are celebrating. This season is many different things. Whatever it is to you I hope you get a chance to celebrate it with the people you love," said Mayor Siemens.

Attendees had the opportunity to meet Santa Claus, who spread cheer and took photos with excited kids. The warmth of the season continued with complimentary hot apple cider provided by Dead Horse Cider Co. and delicious s'mores courtesy of Winkler Co-op.

"It's great to be out at a community event. I love to see the kids' excited faces; it is the start of the holiday season and the start of all the fun holiday traditions," said Glen Wieler, who attended the event.

The event was not only a celebration of lights, but also a community gathering. Morden-Winkler MLA Carrie Hiebert and Mayor Henry Siemens delivered speeches emphasizing the spirit of togetherness, and the magic of the holiday season.