For the past week there has been a new route for the bus in Merritt.
Every night at 6:45 in front of city hall, children and their parents have boarded the bus, eager to take in the many Christmas displays presently illuminated throughout the city.
Organizer and city bus manager for the Nicola Valley Transit Society, Jan Oswald, has been extremely happy with the response, especially since this has been the first year for the tour.
“Every night the seats have been filled with excited children and their parents,” she said.
She is particularly pleased that B.C. Transit offered to pay for the gas and the bus drivers generously volunteered their time.
This made it possible to offer the tour at no cost to the rider.
“Having the costs covered allowed us to ask for a donation to the food bank instead and has been a terrific way to give back to the community,” added Oswald.
While on the bus, participants were asked to judge the entered homes and vote on a favourite, with the winner being awarded a $50.00 cash prize.
“We didn’t have as many homes entered as I would have liked,” said Oswald
“But the tour has incorporated many homes on the tour that easily would have been contenders.”
Oswald hopes to attract more entrants next year and have a number of different categories on which to base the judging.
After the tour, participants were treated to hot chocolate and baked goods, courtesy of Coopers, M&M Meat Shops, and Brambles Bakery.
The home that received the most votes is on 1970 Hill St. in Colletville.
Owners Andre and Teresa Mikita have been setting up since November and flicked the switch on December 1.
“I bought most of the decorations from the ‘Ho Ho house’ on Coldwater Avenue four years ago and have been adding to our collection ever since,” says Andre Mikita.
“I love doing this and already have a whole bunch of ideas for next year.”
For Mikita the $50 is appreciated.
“My hydro bills quadrupled," he says.
“It is all worth it and we will continue to do this as long as we can.”