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Uxbridge park to be set in lights
Optimist Club presents annual event

Dec 16, 2009 - 2:48 PM

UXBRIDGE -- The Christmas season is getting brighter thanks to an Uxbridge service club.
The Optimist Club of Uxbridge is presenting its second annual Fantasy of Lights, featuring a variety of lit displays by Uxbridge businesses and organizations in Elgin Park from Thursday, Dec. 17 to Christmas Day, Friday, Dec. 25.
Fred Bendell, a member of the club, said this year's version is bigger than last.
"We have 25 presenters this year, which is an increase of nine from last year's event," he said, adding the goal is to reach 50 displays. "We are moving in the right direction."
To help accommodate more displays, the Township in October approved a request from the Optimist Club to improve access to power in the southeast portion in the park. Uxbridge approved a permanent power panel for that area, with Mr. Bendell advising councillors at the time the upgrade would benefit many events in Elgin Park.
The club noted the first event went well, with members estimating last year 2,000 people travelled through the displays in a vehicle or on foot, while volunteers collected about $500 each day in donations benefitting local youth.
Each presenter this year was offered a free 25-by-25-foot lot to set up their LED display, with the organization's name mentioned at each site, although the Optimist Club is striving to limit "commercialization" of the event. The creators were also given flexibility regarding what materials they could use to construct their presentation.
Those wishing to check out the event can once again travel through the park in car or on foot, with vehicles to enter from Main Street and exit via Water Street. Parking will be made available near the entrance to those wishing to drive to the park and then walk along the lit path. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted.
An opening ceremony is planned for 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 17, with the display open to the public from 6 to 9:30 p.m. until Christmas Day. Music will be played nightly to liven the holiday mood.

Uxbridge has its ducks in a row
Annual brook race will benefit Uxbridge youth

June 8, 2009 - 2:56 PM

UXBRIDGE -- An Uxbridge service club is getting all its ducks in a row for this weekend.
The Optimist Club of Uxbridge is hosting its 16th annual Duck Derby on Saturday, June 13, with activities from noon to 4 p.m. at Centennial Park. The ducks will race down Uxbridge Brook at 4 p.m. and lucky sponsors of the winning quackers will receive cash prizes.
Those prizes are $3,000 for first place, $1,000 for second place and $500 for third place, with a corporate sponsor prize of $500.
"The real winner each year, though, is our youth in Uxbridge," said Optimist member Fred Bendell, noting proceeds from the derby benefit the Uxbridge Youth Centre, Uxbridge Scouts, youth soccer and lacrosse, Huck Finn Day, Uxbridge Secondary School graduation awards and more.
Prior to the main event, free Fun in the Park for children will be offered beginning at noon featuring performances by the Uxbridge Youth Centre, Uxbridge's own Superman and Bram Morrison, of Sharon, Lois, and Bram fame, noted Mr. Bendell. Pony rides, a jump tent, kite making, face painting, duck pond and children's games will also be offered, he added.
Duck Derby tickets are $5 each, three for $10 or eight for $20, available at Canadian Tire Uxbridge and Rutledge Jewellers.

Lighting up the night
First-of-its-kind event a success in Uxbridge, says service club

Dec 22, 2008 - 12:05 PM

UXBRIDGE - At the main entrance to Elgin Park, Chris Wilson stood next to a small propane heater in the sub-zero night.
"The Christmas spirit is keeping me warm," he joked.
In fact, according to Environment Canada, it was -12 C at around 8 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 21. But, it didn't stop Mr. Wilson, an Optimist Club volunteer, from welcoming visitors to the club's first 'Fantasy of Lights' display.
The biting cold also didn't stop many individuals, including residents Don and Carol Shaw, from taking a stroll down a path lined with 16 lit displays, some elaborate, from various businesses and organizations. All the while, holiday-themed music filled the air.
"I'm surprised," said Ms. Shaw of the display. "I didn't know what to expect."
The first event of its kind in Uxbridge, it was inspired by a similar event in St. Thomas, Ont. And, the local version has been a success so far, said Mr. Wilson. But it's just the beginning, he added. "It's only going to get bigger and better," he said. "This is going to grow and be huge for the town."
John Wilson, also an Optimist member, showed up shortly after to greet patrons as they arrived on foot or in a vehicle. He said club members will have committed about 50 combined volunteer hours by the time the show wraps up on Christmas Day, not including set-up time. The fantasy began on Dec. 18.
Brent Lunn, another club member who was collecting donations at the end of the tour, estimates about 150 vehicles have travelled through the display each night from 6 to 10 p.m. Coupled with those on foot, he expects more than 2,000 people will have taken in the show by the end.
And, they're not just from Uxbridge, he said. "There's a lot of people from out of town," he said. "We're getting some American money."
Mr. Lunn said the volunteers are receiving about $500 a night in donations, with 100 per cent of the money going back to local youth.
The club already has big ideas for next year, with the possibility of ice sculptures and horse-drawn buggy rides featured in the 2009 version. "I can see this triple in size next year," said Mr. Lunn, adding he'd like to see shuttle buses bring people to the park from downtown.
"The possibilities are endless," he said.

Music hall of famer hits Uxbridge
Concert to benefit Uxbridge Youth Centre

Feb 7, 2008 - 3:36 PM

UXBRIDGE -- One of "our country's most talented guitarists" will be featured at an Uxbridge concert this month.
The Optimist Club of Uxbridge is hosting Rik Emmett, former lead singer of the Canadian band Triumph (before he went solo in 1988), on Friday, Feb. 29, at the Uxbridge Music Hall from 7 to 11:30 p.m. "(Mr. Emmett) is one of the most dynamic, comical and just plain entertaining musicians in Canada," reads a release on the event.
Mr. Emmett has more than 30 years in the music industry, picking up accolades along the way including Best Guitarist at the 1981 Juno Awards. The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences recently announced this year's Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee is Triumph. The original band members, including Mr. Emmett, will be honoured at The 2008 Juno Awards in Calgary on April 6.
"I played everything from jazz festivals to soft-seater concerts to giant outdoor electric rock band shows to orchestra gigs to folk clubs," stated Mr. Emmett on his website, www.rikemmett.com. "And I love the challenging range of it all." According to the site, Mr. Emmett joined the newly-formed Triumph in 1975 and by 1979 three albums had earned gold or platinum status in Canada. In the following seven years, the band released 10 albums, all of which went gold, with four hitting platinum. In the U.S., two of those albums achieved gold. Some of the band's hits include 'Fight the Good Fight' and 'Lay it the Line'.
Opening for Mr. Emmett on Feb. 29 is Toronto acoustic guitarist Maneli Jamal.
The show will feature a full cash bar, as well as hors d'oeuvres and coffee provided by Harlow's Bar and Grille. There will also be a draw to win an electric guitar signed by Mr. Emmett.
Transportation home from the event will be provided. Williamson Uxbridge has provided organizers with two vans, "but with an expected crowd of 300 people we must be prepared to accommodate all patrons, so we are looking for volunteer drivers of the two vans as well as additional drivers (with vehicles) to fulfill the needs of the night" reads the release. Those able to offer help can e-mail Nairn Robertson at nrobertson@powergate.ca.
Tickets are $20 each, available at Blue Heron Books and Brock Street Music. Funds raised will benefit the Uxbridge Youth Centre.
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