With a little community spirit and cameras, 108 Mile residents Rick Swanson and Steve Coleopyfound a way to bring 2020’s Christmas lights display to everyone in the community.
Swanson and Coleopy, with the assistance of their wives Janet and Kathy, took time over the holidays to drive around 108 Mile Ranch and film and photograph the Christmas lights of the community. They then put a video together and released it on Youtube under the title 2020 Lone Family Christmas Light Show so that everyone – whether they were self-isolating or unable to get out to the 108 themselves – could enjoy the festive sight.
Swanson, a retiree who has lived in the 108 since 2005, said he loves photography and making videos in his spare time. This year he decided to film the lights as a way to give back to the community because he knew a lot of people wouldn’t be able to get out to see them. Swanson said he enjoys the comfort and quiet of the community, which he and his first wife Maggie, who died of cancer a few years ago, found appealing.
“A new fellow who just came here summed it up. Wherever you go around 108 Lake, it’s like a park, it’s quiet and got open spaces, you can breathe the air is fresh, people are friendly you go to a store and they know who you are. It’s that small-town feel I really enjoy,” Swanson said.
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Swanson said the original concept was inspired by his Maggie’s work with the 100 Mile Hospice and the knowledge that some people are shut in this time of year. He and Coleopy drove around taking pictures and videos of the light, with Coleopy shooting around 50 pictures and Swanson close to 300.
“I’ve done it before, I did years ago in 2005, so I decided to do this and we put it up online so everybody could see it and then send it to the hospital and hospice,” Swanson said. “It just kind of took off and has almost 1,300 views now.”
As there are about 1,200 homes in the 108, Swanson said they must have had every single household watch the video. He said he found the feedback exciting and while Janet teased him that he was being a little vain, he added he was just happy it made people smile at the end of “a really bad year.”
His one regret is that he didn’t go “far enough” as he received many messages encouraging him to film homes throughout the area, even as far away as Bridge Lake. Swanson chose to stick to his vision of the 108 lights for this year but hopes to expand the scope of it next year. Assuming he’s not travelling, he feels he kind of has to do it again.
If Swanson does do it next year, he plans to accept photos and videos from the wider community to include in the video. The video link is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b00pwVlqc8E