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Lighting up the Christmas season

<p>It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Just ask Rick Belford.</p>

Workers to string 300,000 lights around region

David Gonczol for Metro Ottawa

The statue of Sir John A. MacDonald oversees the efforts of Derek Pelletier yesterday as he and a crew of workers stringed more than 20,000 Christmas lights around Parliament Hill in preparation for the National Capital Commission’s Christmas Lights Across Canada program.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Just ask Rick Belford.

A lighting technician with Roy’s Lighting Service, Belford and his colleagues are charged with setting up lights around the city in time for the holiday season.

“A lot of people say, ‘You’re putting up lights already?’ but when you do as many as we do, you have to start a lot earlier than if you were doing your home,” he said yesterday while working at Parliament Hill.

In the coming weeks, workers will be stringing up 300,000 lights at National Capital Commission properties in Ottawa and Gatineau, including the National War Memorial, Jacques Cartier Park, Confederation Park, Major’s Hill Park and Nepean Point. They will even string lights at the prime minister’s house.

To run from Dec. 6 to Jan. 6, the NCC’s Christmas Lights Across Canada program also covers museums, monuments, embassies and other landmarks.

Other than holiday spirit, there’s a practical reason for installing the lights so early, said Chantal Comeau, with the NCC. “It’s better for trees that we install the lights now. When the branches of the trees are frozen, they’re easier to break.”

Early installation also allows all lights to be tested before the official illumination ceremony on Dec. 6.

“A magical and popular event,” the ceremony is attended by thousands of people, said Comeau.

This is the second year the NCC is using light-emitting diode (LED) strings for the display. With energy consumption 80 per cent lower than conventional lights, LEDs contribute to power savings in the capital region, said Comeau.

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