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Saint John charity gives kids a tour of holiday light displays

Click to play video: 'Neighborhoods across the Maritimes lit in preparation for arrival of Santa' Neighborhoods across the Maritimes lit in preparation for arrival of Santa
WATCH: A group in Saint John is making sure all kids have a chance to check out the elaborate and dazzling displays. Travis Fortnum has more. – Dec 24, 2019

Neighbourhoods across Canada will be lit up on Christmas Eve in preparation for the arrival of Santa, and checking out these increasingly elaborate, dazzling displays has become a holiday tradition of its own.

There are, however, many kids who won’t get the chance to enjoy them the same way others do.

In Saint John, one group has made a tradition of loading some of those kids onto school buses and taking them around to see the holiday lights.

One of Saint John’s many Christmas light displays. Travis Fortnum

“When you’re a little kid, you’re dreamy, you’re starry-eyed,” says Sharon Walsh, executive director of the Joshua Group.

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“It kind of gives them hope. It gives them something to look forward to. Let them be happy, let them just be kids.”

The Joshua Group is a faith-based charity in the Greater Saint John Region that aims to give at-risk youth a place to hang out with each other twice a week.

READ MORE: Reality check — How bad are Christmas lights for the environment?

The annual Christmas light tour sees those school buses full of kids hit the streets to take in the sights of the season.

“It was cool to have that like, as your lights are going on and shutting off, it’s the beat of the song,” says Sherin Ali, describing one particularly over-the-top setup in Rothesay.

“It’s really cool to have that on your house and around your house.”

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“The lights that we’ve seen, they give us hope and peace, and they describe what Christmas is really about,” says 11-year-old Aaliya O’Haron.

“The lights give you a fresh look,” says Ibrahim Al Mostfa, who came to Canada with his family three years ago.

“In Lebanon, there is Christmas, but in Syria, no. We celebrate different things, but here, now, we celebrate Christmas.”

The dazzling lights have become something Al Mostfa looks forward to.

“It’s a good feeling because you’re surrounded by lights,” he says.

The Joshua Group capped its festivities with a Christmas dinner, during which all of the kids were given donated gifts.

Over 200 gift bags were made up for the kids of the Joshua Group. Travis Fortnum

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