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Christmas at the Pier lights up the holiday season

By Alana Pickrell [1]

BELLEVILLE – Almost 60 years later the memory of Billy Foster and Art “Sonny” Culloden lives on during the holidays.

Wednesday night marked the start of Christmas at the Pier as a large crowd gathered at Jane Forrester Park to see the lights and listen to the live music from Happy Harmony Choir [2].

The event started after two local boys were killed in a car accident on Christmas Eve in 1958. Instead of focusing on their grief, the families put together a huge Christmas display to help bring friends and families together during the holiday season.

For these two families the light display is extremely important. Art’s sister, Annis Ross, dresses up as Mrs. Claus and helps spread Christmas joy to all of the children.

“Christmas at the Pier to me personally is near and dear to my heart and to my family’s heart because it is in honour of my brother Sonny and his friend, Billy Foster. It continues to memorialize those two young people who were killed on Christmas Eve. Everybody has tragedy in their life and it’s so important to focus on your blessings and the joy of things,” she said.

Over the last few years city council has worked on enhancing the light display and adding wifi so that community members can enjoy the live music from the warmth of their car.

For Garnet Thompson, a city councillor, Christmas at the Pier is one of his favourite holiday experiences.

“It’s the enjoyment from the adults, from the children and from the community to come down here and enjoy some Christmas music,” he said. “And the joy from Christmas lights – it just puts the spirit in everybody around the Christmas scene.”

In the last three years live music has been added to showcase local choirs and encourage a big crowd to come out and celebrate together.

“The Foster and Culloden families are so grateful for the city of Belleville for taking on this display and giving it such tender love and care and continuing the community tradition,” said Ross.