SparkleTour trying to shine holiday cheer outside Saskatchewan

Click to play video: 'Holiday light shows on display in Saskatoon and area' Holiday light shows on display in Saskatoon and area
WATCH: Kids and parents in and around Saskatoon many have been getting into the festive spirit with some dazzling light arrangements. Here are some of the favourite sights and lights on camera – Dec 24, 2020

The ninth season of SparkleTour took on some new meaning this year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to its creator Iann Gorrill.

It’s an online map that crowdfunds for all of Saskatchewan’s Christmas light display locations and people can use it as a guide to check out some of the places within the safety of their own vehicles.

Read more: Enchanted Forest in Saskatoon to continue tradition through COVID-19 pandemic

“I think there’s a good opportunity for it to be something that a lot of families can enjoy this year,” Gorrill said.

“It is a COVID-safe activity and there aren’t a lot of activities that people are able to take in their traditional Christmases. We can’t do a lot of the gatherings that people really enjoy as they do revolve around large crowds so this is something a little bit of normalcy that I think will be important to people this holiday season.

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“It is kind of a happy accident, I guess, that this activity is one that is very safe and they can continue to do exactly as they always have.”

This holiday season, the map started adding locations early on Nov. 27.

“That’s the earliest we’ve ever launched and mostly because it felt like we had quite a few people asking already and felt, with 2020 being the way it was, that it’d be good to get a little bit of Christmas cheer earlier than usual,” Gorrill said.

“I know it’s a little kind of cliché, but for us, the big push is about because of COVID, to try and expand because of that and have more people use the service in what’s been a pretty rough year.”

The map has also become a family endeavour, according to the Regina man.

“It’s always been myself and my wife … she does a lot of the work behind the scenes for us,” Gorrill said.

“My daughter, however, has been helping out a little bit more on social media now. She’s been running more of our Instagram and Twitter feed the last few years and now that she’s a little bit older, she’s a little bit more involved.”

Read more: Allen Family Lights adds Remembrance Day-themed display to Regina front yard

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Gorrill said he’s noticed some Christmas light trends form over nearly a decade in Saskatchewan.

“There was a few years there where it seemed that there was quite a bit of people with the rotating rainbow light … you are seeing more and more intelligence in the lights now. So a lot more smart lights,” he said.

“I’m very partial to the sets with the lights and music just because I have a technical background so I understand the effort that goes into programming that type of display.”

Gorrill said 2017 was their best season with about 400 locations added to the map but he’s now hoping to go above and beyond.

“I’m hoping to expand bigger than that. As some people have noticed, when we have one location in Burlington, Ont., on the map this year and I’d love it if more of Canada got in on it,” Gorrill said.

“For me, I think it’s a fun service and it’s a fun gift that we can give to people and something we can do at Christmas to make a difference.”

As of Saturday afternoon, SparkleTour had 256 locations in 16 communities. 

Click to play video: 'Staying cozy during the winter months' Staying cozy during the winter months
Staying cozy during the winter months – Nov 12, 2020

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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