Theft of kilometre of cords from Calgary’s Lions Festival of Lights devastates volunteers

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Volunteers with the Calgary's Lions Festival of Lights are devastated following the theft of $10,000 worth of equipment used to create the huge display at the Confederation Park golf course. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, the display organizer says they will have to start looking for 34 years' worth of cord and cables from scratch – Mar 13, 2021

A break-in and theft at a Calgary shed storing equipment for the Lions Festival of Lights has resulted in the loss of around $10,000 worth of Christmas light cords.

On March 3, the organizer of the Lions Festival of Lights found out a hole had been cut into the Confederation Park golf course fence. Thieves broke into the shed and made off with around a kilometre of cords and cables, according to Otto Silzer, Lions Festival of Lights organizer.

“I was devastated because we spend so much time working on this. But they are after the copper, and we are not the only ones,” Silzer said.

Read more: COVID-19 dims Calgary’s Confederation Park light display, Airdrie’s light festival size unchanged

Silzer said it will be an uphill task to replace all the cords that were swiped. He said it’s a huge collection that was accumulated over three decades.

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“It is a nightmare when you think about all the cords that we need for all the displays. We have acquired it over 34 years, and now we have to go back and try to figure out what did we use this cord for and where did we use it?” Silzer said.

Despite the loss, volunteers working at the site on Saturday understand the dire circumstances that may have caused someone to steal.

“It’s kind of devastating after everything that we have been doing over the years,” said Lions Club volunteer Alastair Smith.

“Times are tough for people at the moment with stealing copper wire and things like that, so it’s tough that people have to resort to that and the support is not there for people and they get that desperate.”

Read more: After being cancelled, Calgary’s Festival of Lights will go ahead for 2019 season

Police are now investigating and Silzer hopes insurance will cover some of the loss.

The fate of this year’s light display depends on the COVID-19 pandemic and people coming forward to help start the cord collection from scratch.

“It could have happened in September, and then we would not have been able to do it. Now maybe we have time to do it and to look at what we need and maybe we can do it better,” Silzer said.

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Volunteers with the Lions Club and ENMAX were at the Confederation Park golf course on Saturday morning dismantling the few lights that made up the scaled-back version of the Lions Festival of Lights display this winter.

Organizers made the difficult decision to limit the usual show because of the pandemic. Silzer said they didn’t feel comfortable with the big crowds the dazzling display normally draws.

“We could’ve put it up perhaps but we couldn’t control the crowds that come here. Even what we did have, it was appreciated by the people who saw what little we had,” Silzer said.

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