Teaching Giving at Edmonton’s Candy Cane Lane (and Enjoying Horse Rides, too)

With summer well underway, I find myself thinking starting to think about fall and winter, and particular, about family traditions—berry picking, camping, and evenings spent around the kitchen table. Some I inherited alongside family recipes. Others I’m creating with my daughter Elle. One local tradition that I’m excited about is this December’s YEG Candy Cane Lane.

What is Candy Cane Lane?

Since its founding in 1968, this annual festival of lights has grown from a single street to the entire Crestwood neighborhood. Seemingly overnight, residents transform their quiet part of Edmonton into a Christmas wonderland with more blinking lights than Edmonton International Airport. Gingerbread men and reindeer walk the streets. You go for sleigh rides while trying to count the Santas and candy canes, listen to live music, and visit the fire pits. You can even warm your fingers with a mug of hot chocolate while sampling treats from the food trucks.

Supporting Candy Cane Lane’s Sleigh Rides and the Edmonton Food Bank

Visiting Candy Cane Lane means becoming part of something greater than yourself because it is not just another neighborhood light festival.  It’s one of the largest contributors to the Edmonton Food Bank. They don’t charge admission. Instead, they ask that visitors drop a non-perishable food item in one of the green donation bins. Last year, they collected over 12 truck-loads of food for Edmonton’s neediest families.

Charity and community with a dash of holiday cheer and dazzling lights…sign me up!

Let’s be real.

Elle will not understand why she gets to drop a tin of beans or a box of noodles into a bin, not this year. In time, I hope this tradition and the meaning behind those green bins take root and flourish. I want her to learn that charity starts at home. We help our neighbors because they need it, not because we’ll benefit from it.  There is no shame in being poor or hungry. The shame belongs to those who turn their backs. Thirty years from now, I hope my daughter extends a helping hand.

These are lofty goals and far beyond her two-year-old understanding of the world. For now, I’ll teach her kindness. She’ll pick the food donations and proudly carry our contributions to the bin one item at a time. I’ll subtly encourage her to give the foods she likes instead of ones she doesn’t. I’ll praise each deposit and ply her with fresh gingerbread and lukewarm hot chocolate as a reward. Then we’ll wander from street to street with her hand clasped in mine and ooh and ah over each fabulous display. Perhaps, you’ll see us on a sleigh ride, or maybe we’ll tour the area by car. It depends on the weather.

Candy Cane Lane Hours, Tickets and Info You Need to Know:

When: Mid-December through January 1

Where: From 99th to 92nd Avenue on 148th Street

Time: 6 pm to 10 pm

Cost: Free. Non-perishable food donations accepted.

Typically, opening night is walk-only. Check their website in late November for sleigh ride dates. Follow them on twitter @YEGCCL for the latest Frosty sightings and event updates.

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