Contingent Contemplation: Trinity Street in Vancouver

When I was young, my dad would drive the whole family to Trinity Street to take a look at the dazzling display of lights every Christmas. It wasn’t until one year when I decided to go there myself that I had to Google it up, and learn the tragic but wholesome reasoning behind the well-lit neighbourhood of Trinity Street.

Photo credits: Vancouver Sun

In November of 1999, two elderly ladies living two blocks away from Trinity Street were murdered in their homes, separately. While the killer was on the loose, everyone in the neighbourhood felt a looming sense of unease and fear. The death of Martha Elliot and Nora Davis shook the residents, and caused neighbours to retreat from one another.

In efforts to rebuild and rekindle the neighbourhood, one of the residents, Cate Jones, organized a competition where several different blocks went up against each other in efforts to outshine (quite literally) each other with their Christmas decoration For $2, anyone could vote for who they thought should be the winner after walking by the brightly decorated homes! All money collected then goes to a charity.

trinity street
Photo credits: Vancouver Courier

I remember driving by the homes after realizing the story behind this whole thing. What a lovely tradition to come out of something that was originally so tragic. I imagined the hard work and willingness for all the residents on Trinity Street to make an effort to brightly and proudly light up their homes every year. I feel that just the joint realization as houses got decorated one by one leading up to the holidays would put tears in my eyes if I lived there. It’s a selfless act that brings wonder and joy to many around Christmastime.

Sadly, the Trinity Street Festival has dwindled from what it once was. Donations were running slim in the first place, and then eventually, massive traffic jams occurred due to folks driving by to view the lights (visitors were encouraged to park, and walk to admire the lights). This also meant less people felt safe to walk the streets given the overwhelming amount of cars that circled the blocks. The residents of these blocks who had parked cars out on the street ended up facing hit and runs more frequently. Eventually, in 2015, the festival came to an end. The volunteering costs and efforts put against the money that the festival brought in for charities just didn’t make sense anymore.

Trinity Street Light Festival
Photo credits: Daily Hive

That’s not to say that the houses on Trinity Street are no longer decorated for the holiday seasons. There are still many that continue to proudly display their Christmas inflatables and rows upon rows of twinkling lights. It’s just that the official organization of the festival is gone. I do suspect that as time goes on, there will be fewer and fewer houses continuing to do this in the future. I selfishly hope not — but I am still thankful for what Cate and the residents of 2400-2900 Trinity Street has done for a good 15 years until the festival came to an end.

trinity street
Photo credits: Vancouver Courier

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