When Sparkle in the Park first opened up last year, a lot of people didn’t really know what it was. Then word got out.

Sparkle in the Park is a community celebration along the roadways and campsites of the M.D. of Bonnyville’s Cold Lake campground. Local businesses and nonprofits reserve a spot and create glittering light displays for people to drive past and enjoy.

The event is organized by Hearts for Healthcare.

“Last year was just the beginning, and there was a little uncertainty about what it entails,” said Hearts for Healthcare president Jennifer Cory Lee. 

“But after last year was relatively successful despite the cold, we had companies who said they were going to sign up the next year,” she said. “And man, did they ever!”

The number of participating organizations leapt from about 20 last year to 54 in 2023. And people drove through in, well, droves. The first two nights saw more than 400 cars on average, with that increasing
to more than 500 on subsequent evenings.

With darkness falling just before 5:00 pm, and no other artificial light in the park, the displays turned the roadways into a spectacular tunnel of lights. While a bit of snow on the ground would have added to the ambiance, volunteers—who last year worked outside in temperatures below -30C — weren’t complaining about this year’s milder weather.

There is no admission fee and no pressure to donate, but cash donations were accepted for Hearts for Healthcare and food donations were collected for Cold Lake Food Bank. 

Hearts for Healthcare raises money throughout the year to help attract health care providers to Cold Lake and to purchase important medical equipment. Cory Lee said Sparkle in the Park is the organization’s gesture of appreciation for the support they receive from the community.

“We just want to say thank you, and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Happy holidays, whatever your holidays are,” she said. “Our intent wasn’t to ask a lot from the community. We wanted them to have a place to go and celebrate the season at the end of a busy year.”

“We hope everybody gets a little bit of joy and rest as the year closes.”

The dark background of the M.D. of Bonnyville’s Cold Lake park made the light displays especially spectacular. TRAVIS ROE
Sacred and secular, nonprofit and commercial: 54 organizations put up displays for the community to enjoy. Photos by Travis Roe