Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
October 8, 2001
No more Bright Nights?
Knights may pull their financial commitment to Nativity scene
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — The Knights of Columbus appear to be pulling back from their financial commitment to the Bright Nights Nativity scene at Hawrelak Park.
And that has project coordinator Barney Markowski worried because he thinks the display makes a sound statement about the real meaning of Christmas.
Without it, the Bright Nights project would go back to being a purely secular light display of the Christmas season, he said.
It costs $32,000 to keep the 128-foot long light display in place for a whole month for three years. This is the final year of a three-year contract and it may be the final year ever as no one is raising money to keep it going beyond this Christmas.
"If we wish to renew it again we have to raise another $32,000 but councils are saying it's costing us too much money," Markowski said. "They feel we should put the money elsewhere but they haven't given me any elsewheres."
The project began in 1998 at the suggestion of Archbishop Joseph MacNeil, who noticed the lack of a religious display in the Bright Lights. He suggested a Nativity scene.
"I feel very strongly that if we are going to let the public know that there is far more to Christmas than Santa Clauses and other displays that they have, we have to keep this display in place," Markowski said.
"It's a good way to tell the world about Christianity and the real meaning of Christmas."
Markowski, who is state church chairman of the Knights, will continue trying to convince his peers throughout Alberta and the Northwest Territories that the Bright Nights project is worthwhile.
"I still have until May or June (of 2002) to convince the councils to carry on or we have to abandon it. They have to come up with the money."
He will learn more about where councils stand on the issue at the Knights' next chapter meeting this month.
"I'm going to fight tooth and nail to keep it going because it is beautiful," he said. "People from Eastern Canada and the Eastern United States have said how much they enjoy our Nativity scene."
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