Light, Camera, Action: Colouring Celebration Square

If you haven’t been to the Town of Whitby’s annual Christmas tree lighting in Celebration Square you’re seriously missing out! It has everything! Music, hot chocolate, cookies, candy canes, seasonal crafts and of course a visit from jolly old St. Nick himself mean the air is full of good cheer and the joyful laughter of happy children. A majestic tree and glittering lights strung out across the square in an array of colour and light create an authentic winter wonderland atmosphere that can melt the heart of even the grouchiest of Grinches (yours truly).

The annual event is incredibly popular in Whitby, with residents travelling from far outside the town boundaries to attend. Celebration Square, which hosts the event, is a jewel of a public space, located directly adjacent to the Town’s main library branch. You’d think that as the host of such a successful event and being that close to a busy library Celebration square would be a popular destination year-round.

Sadly that’s not the case. During other times and for most of the year Celebration Square lies mainly bare, vacant, and under-utilized. The Colour the Square Campaign, launched by the Town of Whitby in collaboration with 8 80 Cities, aims to change that.

Colour the Square is a six-month engagement and awareness campaign to help Celebration Square reach its full year-round potential. By finding out what prevents residents from enjoying the space and what kinds of programming would entice them to visit this public space more often, we hope to add more colour to the square.

Early December saw 8 80 Cities and the Town of Whitby take to the streets, and between cookies and wind chills, we talked with the residents, discussing ways to create a more welcoming, energetic and dynamic Celebration Square.

For the record, no idea was too big or too outside the box. From wishes of Hogwarts style castles to majestic ice trails winding around the library, residents were more than ready to jump in with both feet and dream big. Of course, there were more tame requests too. For instance ensuring that materials used for new seating don’t get too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter, small but important details that have to be factored in when reimagining an existing public asset.

8 80 Cities and the Town of Whitby will be hitting the town once more in February collecting as much data as possible on how we can make Celebration square a real destination in Downton Whitby. Based on the passion and excitement on display from residents during the consultation at the Christmas tree lighting, the desire and potential to see a truly great public space are limitless!

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