Holiday cheer comes to Naden

Ken Lidstone with Christmas cut outs

Ken Lidstone poses with his larger than life Santa and reindeer cut outs. They are just a few of the many cut outs that will adorn the Navy Holiday Village.

Piles of fluffy cotton snow, cheerful holiday music from the Naden Band, and a cast of colourful characters festoon the Naden Drill Shed this week during the inaugural Navy Holiday Village.

Last week volunteers decked the hall with boughs of holly, decorated Christmas trees and created a winter wonderland walkthrough for the public to enjoy.

“We wanted to come up with a replacement for the Navy Lighting Contest, and we thought this was a great opportunity,” says Ken Lidstone, primary designer of the village. “With dockyard under construction, we wanted to centralize the celebrations, and I think we’ve outdone ourselves.”

Among the decorations, including an installation from the CFB Esquimalt Model Train Club, are hundreds of cartoon cut-outs constructed by Lidstone himself. The craftsman has been constructing these plywood characters for the past 35 years.

“It’s just a small hobby of mine,” he says. “I’ve created about 250, but plywood doesn’t last forever so I’m currently at around 100.”
Lidstone’s collection runs the gamut from the Grinch to Bugs Bunny to Santa and his Elves.

“I wanted to contribute in any way I could, and this is something I love doing,” he says. “Seeing children smile when they recognize characters they love fills me with such joy.”

Outside, visitors will see a lighted truck display and naval ships lit up from afar.

“The view from the bluff at the Drill Shed is beautiful, and with the lights on the water it’s just wonderful,” says Lidstone. “It’s a great way to cap off the event.”

Cdr Wes Golden, Base Administration Officer, says he is thrilled by the work and effort put in by volunteers, and is confident the Holiday Village will become a “must-see” attraction in years to come.

“I am ecstatic with how the concept of a Navy Holiday Village has gone from being a plan on a dry erase board to a reality,” he says. “In only five weeks, a hard-working team of volunteers from across the Formation has come together to bring the Navy Holiday” Village to life. Nothing beats stronger than the heart of a volunteer and when you have a team of volunteers like we had this year, they are simply unstoppable.”

The Navy Holiday Village, he adds, speaks to community outreach and what it means to be a good neighbour.

“It speaks to energizing the institution by providing an opportunity for our men and women in the Defence Team to introduce themselves and tell their stories to the people of Esquimalt and the surrounding communities of what it is like to be a member of the Defence Team here in Esquimalt, and what it is like to work for the Royal Canadian Navy.  It provides an opportunity for the Commander of MARPAC and the Base Commander to open the doors and invite surrounding communities in for a mug of hot chocolate and share in the festive

-Shawn O’Hara, Staff Writer

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