VIDEO: Bright Lights Windsor Officially Opens At Jackson Park

Hundreds of residents packed the Queen Elizabeth II Sunken Gardens for a tree lighting ceremony to kick off Bright Lights Windsor.

Mayor Drew Dilkens was joined by a Sudanese family experiencing their first winter. They arrived in Windsor just in time to help him push the button that lit the massive tree and attractions at Jackson Park Friday night.

"Someone came forward and said, 'you know, there's a new family that just arrived, they're from south-Sudan and they have five or six kids and this will be their first Christmas, there first time in Canada and the first memory they create in the city of Windsor,'" says Dilkens. "We want that family on stage to have them help celebrate with everyone from Windsor."

Residents immediately dispersed throughout the festival after the ceremony, posing for pictures everywhere.

"There will be lots of memories created here, much like there were last year when people were getting engaged and all sorts of fun things happen," he says. "Those same types of things will continue to happen here and it's a great celebration for our community."

Dilkens tells AM800 News seeing all the smiling faces makes it easy to forget the flak the city took over spending money on the festival last year.

"Just having everyone here gathering together is certainly very special for this time of the year and special for me as mayor," he added.

This year's festival added a local holiday market, has three times more illumination and four times more displays, and more parking.

Some other new features are a 20-ft tall maple leaf, and a massive illuminated Windsor sign.

Festivities end on January 6, 2019