As a children’s entertainer, Paul Kilshaw’s favourite moment of the annual Oak Bay Light Up is hard earned but well worth the laughter and hard work.
Elizabeth Smith, president of the Oak Bay Business Improvement Association and event organizer Heather Leary have “coined me the magician-in-residence on Oak Bay Avenue,” Kilshaw said with a chuckle.
He bends balloons at all the events in Oak Bay but the BIA’s Light Up might be his favourite.
“I work around it. I will never take another booking when I know that’s the one that’s my priority. I like being known as the Oak Bay magician-in-residence,” he said. “It’s a great crowd. So many kids come out and I’m familiar with 90 per cent of everybody there.”
The kids call him by name and with many he can return the favour.
“It’s a super event. There are a few I do every year, I wouldn’t turn down,” he said. “Everything I do on Oak Bay Avenue is great.”
The 16th annual Oak Bay Christmas Festival kicks off Sunday with Kilshaw and a plethora of other kid-friendly fun at 2 p.m.
“The Light Up brings many aspects of the community together and we believe that’s why it continues to be such a popular event. We see seniors dancing to the music next to young families enjoying activities together and jumping around in the bouncy castle,” Smith said. “We continue to expand the event’s offerings so that it’s a celebration for the whole community.”
This year’s expanded kids’ zone features larger bouncy castles, Timeless Toys game demonstrations, Recreation Oak Bay games and activities on the street, mini door swag building with Oak Bay Flower Shop and a craft station with Oak Bay United Church.
Theatre SKAM brings much-loved Christmas stories to life in their Pop-Up Theatre and the tradition of balloon twisting continues with Oak Bay’s favourite on hand.
Canada Post’s decorated truck will collect letters to Santa and offer a space for those who haven’t written theirs yet.
Galey Farm’s Parade of Lighted Trucks float will be on display for an up-close look. A variety of street food will be available, including roasted chestnuts by Ottavio Italian Bakery and Delicatessen.
A Christmas Roots Music concert begins at 3 p.m. Musicians include well-known performers such as Dustin Bentall, Oliver Swain, Colleen Eccleston, Daniel Lapp, Adam Dobres, Danuel Tate, Peter Dowse and Jamie Troy. VibeStreet Dance returns with a hip hop performance by Lil G’s Crew.
Longtime MC Bill Murphy-Dyson leads a high-energy rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas just ahead of the Light Up countdown.
Santa Claus arrives via Oak Bay fire truck immediately after the lights flick on, then heads for Athlone Travel for a by-donation photo session. Donations support the Oak Bay Fire Department’s purchase of non-essential equipment.
Kilshaw’s moment comes after that. After he’s made hundreds of kids happy with balloon animals or other creations (look for a cool new hat this year).
“To me Light Up is Christmas. It’s the kickoff to my Christmas season,” Kilshaw said. “I love it the best when all is said and done and the crowds have dispersed and I’m eating a cone of hot roasted chestnuts and drinking a hot apple cider. I enjoy the quiet and the still of the night with the lights gleaming through the tudor buildings.
“That’s my absolute favourite time of the evening.”
He often heads for home after to trim his own tree.
The 16th Annual Oak Bay Light Up is Nov. 27 in Oak Bay village from 2 p.m. onward.
More to do this season
• The annual Art on the Avenue Gallery Walk is Dec. 1 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Galleries throughout Oak Bay village remain open for evening browsing tasting, and to welcome friends and neighbours.
• The Island Equipment Owners Association Parade of Lighted Trucks is Dec. 3. Brightly decorated trucks parade through Oak Bay village in support of the Mustard Seed Food Bank. The event features live music by Los Gringos Locos and treats on the front lawn of the Oak Bay municipal hall starting at 5 p.m.
• The Oak Bay Recreation Centre, 1975 Bee St., is open 1 to 4 p.m. on Dec. 25. Swimming, skating, tennis and the fitness studio are all free with a non-perishable food item or donation for the food bank. Swim or skate from 1 to 3:30 p.m. or head for the fitness studio and tennis bubble from 1 to 3:45 p.m.