Announcing the official Sparkletour Bus Tour

We are excited to announce that we will be offering official Sparkletour.ca bus tours in Regina this Christmas season. The tour has been handcrafted by our in-house tour master to show off some of the very best displays around. We are accepting bookings for our first tour for Saturday December 17th from 6:30-8:30PM. If there is enough demand, we will be booking additional tours. $10 per adult and $5 per youth under 12 with payment options of cash or e-transfer. A portion of all proceeds will be donated to the Heart and Stroke foundation. Reservation of seats is on a first come, first serve basis. Seats are limited, so email us at info@sparkletour.ca to book your 2016 SparkleTour today!

A tremendous year for SparkleTour.ca

As the 3rd year of SparkleTour.ca gets closer to the end, I have the difficult task of not only showing the growth we’ve experienced but also thanking those who have made that growth possible.

Growth – 2013 vs 2014

I’m a bit of a statistics junkie when it comes to who is on the site and when and I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few weeks watching and reviewing the site’s analytics and it continues to amaze me the amount of people actually using the site. We’ve had over a 300% growth in users of the site since 2013, going from approximately 2600 users in 2013 to over 11,000 this year. That’s a lot of families in their cars out looking at Christmas lights. It absolutely warms my heart to know that so many others have been able to enjoy something as much as I do and that I was able to help them do it. Not only has the amount of people using the site went up tremendously, so has the amount of pages they are viewing when on the site. There’s been over an 800% increase in page views over the same time period last year. And that’s not the only place we’ve seen big numbers. We’ve also seen a huge increase in our online social presence with over 500% growth between this year and last year on both Facebook and on Twitter. This year also saw the beginning of what I hope to be a yearly tradition, a television special produced by Access Communications that helps spotlight the best lights in the city. Finally, probably the most important number is the amount of addresses that sparkletour.ca is able to bring to you – and that as well has seen a huge increase. Thanks to all of those out there who submit addresses on our site and contact us on social media, we were able to nearly double the amount of addresses this year compared to last – we had around 130 addresses around the province last year and this year we’re up to 250. No matter how you slice it, this year has been a huge success.

To those who helped get us here…

The above growth doesn’t happen on it’s own. It takes more than me and my family to make it happen. It takes interviewers, social media, business owners, website testers (Nadine I’m looking at you) and people who take the time to write down that address that they see out on their walk or on their drive home and getting it to me. I’m sure I’ll forget someone and if I do, I am sorry, but I’d rather take that risk and try and ensure that these people do get the recognition they deserve:

Shana Gorrill – While I may be the face of SparkleTour, Shana is everything that you don’t see. She’s the one that puts up with my obsession with lights, remembers to set the coffee maker for my 6AM interviews, ties 300 candy cane and coupon combos and curls the ribbon, is a soundboard for all the different sparkletour stuff that is happening, the Christmas card author, the map navigator, the address writer downer and general organizational wizard.  I might be able to do it all on my own, but it sure wouldn’t be near as fun without her.

Taron Cochrane@taroncochrane –  Cousin of my wife Shana and a friend of mine for the last 20+ years, Taron has tirelessly promoted and stuck up for us on social media and on his weekly radio show for the past 3 years. It’s likely not quantifiable to determine what kind of a difference he has made

Shawn Knox @sknoxglobal – Shawn was the first interview of 2014 for us and helped get us in touch with the Saskatoon branch of Global as well

Dylan Boz @k1067fm – Based out of Weyburn, Dylan helped promote us to a community that saw a lot more growth this year

Rustie Dean & others at 92.1FM in Regina @RustieDean arranged for me to come visit Regina’s Christmas station on her and Greg Morgan’s morning show. I’ve also heard at least on two other occasions different radio personalities talking about the site as well but I never caught their names, their support is appreciated though

Mike McGuire at Big Dog 102.7FM in Regina @MikeOnAMonday – I’ve been told that the talk Mike and I had on air that one morning was the best interview I’ve ever done and the day that we did that is still one of the highest days for website hits of the whole season.

@ReginaRadar – I’ve had the opportunity of being featured in their rotating ads for the past 3 years. They have a lot of followers and subscribers so their support is appreciated

Thomas Piller@globalpiller – I was put in touch with Thomas from Shawn Knox and Thomas did a great writeup for the web edition of Global news in Saskatoon which is one of the cities that we did see great growth in this year and a city I had hoped to get more involved

Paige Kashmere and Kahla Buchanan @pkashmere and @ctvkahla – This was my first live TV spot and what they don’t tell you is that the lights are hot and a Santa hat is maybe a bad idea :) All kidding aside, a great experience all around

Derek Watson @watsonrock102 – Taron Cochrane put me in touch with Derek via FB and we were able to make something happen for the Rock 102 morning show in Saskatoon. It was a fun talk and I’ve heard from a buddy in Saskatoon that I’ve been referred to since then as “that sparkle tour guy”

Brittany Higgins and Brent Loucks @britmhiggins and @650Brent – My first ever news talk interview out of Saskatoon and a great push for more activity in Saskatoon

Heather Polisch and Ema Graney@LPHeatherp and @emma_graney – Emma Graney gave me my first ever interview in 2012 and really helped boost it then with a front page article in the Leader Post. I reached out to her this year and soon after Heather Polisch got in touch and a great followup article was written which touched on both the site and the good work that the folks on 19 Champ crescent are doing

Samanda Brace and Sheila Coles @bracesamanda and @sheilacolescbc – Samanda reached out to me to book an interview with Sheila Coles on the CBC Morning Edition. It was my first time in the CBC building in Regina and it’s a pretty interesting place. The hits from the cbc.ca website after that interview put December 16th as the biggest single day for number of users and pageview in the site’s history

Kimberly Sebastion@MenchiesRochdal and @MenchiesQuance – Kimberly was the first business owner we’ve ever had contact us about doing something together to help spread the word and she wanted the same thing that we did – for others to get out and enjoy the Christmas light displays throughout. One of the things that Kimberly helped out with was getting us over 150 coupons for 5oz frozen yogurt mixes usable at both Menchies locations in Regina. They made an excellent addition to the Christmas cards we handed out to other home owners as well as a great gift to give to visitors to SparkleTour HQ

Mike Di Stasi @TimHortonsYQR – I reached out to Mike a bit late in the game because hot chocolate is a must have for any sparkle tour and Tim Hortons is where it’s at for our family. Mike surprised us greatly by being able to get 150 free small hot chocolate coupons for use at any Tim Hortons in the city. It was short notice but it was very much appreciated and these coupons also made a great give to give to visitors to SparkleTour HQ

April Aschenbrenner and Wade Pederson@MyAccess_ca – This year was the first of what I hope to be many years that Access Communications Channel 7 produced a Christmas lights special called “SparkleTour Regina”. They went around to some of the houses on the “Best of SparkleTour” map and talked to the homeowners and really highlighted the great displays out there. The special was great and I really can’t wait to work with them again in the future

 

Milestones – part 2

What an exciting morning. We crossed the 1000 likes threshold on Facebook and the 200 address count on the map. This has far exceeded any of our expectations for the season and we want to send a huge thank you to all of you out there who helped to make that happen, none of this exists without you really.

Merry Christmas!!!

New additions to the “Best of SparkleTour”

We’ve got 2 more addresses added to the “Best of SparkleTour” map and trust me, they are worth the attention. The first is the home of Marj and Gord up on Ehrle Crescent in the North West of Regina. They’ve been at this game for over 20 years but they continue to get bigger and better every year. Our second addition is a new one to me on Phaneuf Crescent over in the East end of Regina. I did a quick drive by tonight and tuned into their FM station. I know there are at least 3 music->light sequences and I counted over 20 different light “channels” which made for an awesome show.

Social media milestones

Well, it’s an exciting night over here at SparkleTour HQ. Any minute now someone is going to hit that Like button or that Follow button and we’re going to get to two new milestones – 700 likes on Facebook and 100 followers on Twitter. Now, those aren’t huge numbers, of course, but consider this – November 15th, 2014 we were at 200 likes and about 10 followers, that’s a significant amount of activity in a 3 week period, or at least I think it is :)

One of the big goals this season for Team SparkleTour was to grow our social media base because that’s really where the support comes from, where the addresses come from, and where the feedback comes from and I feel we’re well on our way to saying that that goal was successful.

Update: At 8:33PM Twitter hit 100!

Update 2: 8:46PM and we’re at 700 on FB

Announcing the Best of SparkleTour

One of the most common questions I get this time of year is where are the best Christmas lights? The map has always contained lots of addresses, but the actual must see ones, that wasn’t as easy to say. The goal of sparkletour.ca has always been to give a platform to those who want to share their lights with the world, no matter how big their display is. That being said, sometimes not everyone has time to make it around to every single address on the map so that’s where the “Best of SparkleTour” comes in. It’s a list of addresses that if I could only spend a few hours all season that those would be the locations I’d hit. For now this is a Regina only list as that’s where the majority of the activity is at, but with time I hope to expand this to other cities as well.

Featured addresses will show up as a star on the main map or you can click on “Best of SparkleTour” at the top to get a map that only contains those addresses. I don’t know how many more addresses will make it onto that list, but I’m sure there will be a few more additions before the end of the year. If there’s an address that you feel deserves to be on that list please send me a picture or a video along with the address.

Candy Cane Lane in Regina

One of the best (if not the best) light displays in Regina is back again for another year. Candy Cane Lane in Regina is located on 19 Champ Crescent and has been built again to collect food for the Regina Food Bank. Not only that, but some other homeowners along 7th Ave North and Champ Crescent are really getting into it as well this year. They’ve also worked with Drews’ Independent Grocers to make it easy to pick up $5.00 and $10.00 donation packs for those that forgot to bring something as well as the mail slot for cash or cheque donations. The display runs from December 1st to January 4th, 2015 in the evenings, weather permitting.

This is a must see for every Sparkle Tourer, it’s so well done and supports a great cause and being able to get out of your car and walk through the yard makes it something really unique, especially for the little ones in your life.

Official Poster: Candy Cane Lane Poster 8.5×11 20141103

Website: http://nrgi.ca/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/NORMANVIEWRESIDENTSGROUP

Event listing: https://www.facebook.com/events/908276402518423/

 

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

As quite a lot of snow falls on us here this weekend, if it’s safe to travel you should definitely get out there and take in some of these events:

Regina – The Regina German Club is holding a “Christkindl Markt” on Saturday November 29th starting at 2:00PM. Admission is free and gifts, crafts, food and drink will all be available for purchase. Germans generally get a lot of respect for how they celebrate their Christmases so this is one you’ll want to check out.

Estevan – The St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation is proud to be hosting their second annual “Festival of Trees” from 8:00AM to 9:00PM on November 29th and November 30th. This is a major fundraiser event and more information can be found here: http://www.calendarwiz.com/calendars/popup.php?op=view&id=81388554&crd=tourismestevan& or by calling Becky Conly at 306-637-2474

Saskatoon – Continuing their tour is a special “Evening with the Barra MacNeils” Saturday the 29th at 8PM at the Broadway Theatre. This celtic Christmas show will be sure to get you into the holiday spirit. It looks like there’s still some great seats available at https://informationstation.ca/event.php?e=3446

That’s all for now, I’ll be back next week as we get closer to the arrival of the CN Holiday Train.

An outpouring of support

The past 24 hours have been interesting, frustrating, entertaining but overall amazing. As a lot of you know a certain radio station in Regina has taken it upon themselves to launch their own lights map. This in itself isn’t a problem at all, in fact they were doing it before I came along, I just like to think I made it better :) What is a problem is that not only does it look like they copied all of the addresses off of the sparkletour.ca map (at that time, we’ve since added another round) but they even called it a Sparkle Tour. They could have picked any number of names but went with something that I think is somewhat recognized, in Regina at least, and outright stole it.

A big thank you first goes out to Taron Cochrane for his efforts to enlighten those of his followers to this particularly bad party foul. His Twitter and Facebook posts have helped drive this thing. But it takes more than one person sometimes and that’s where some of the rest of you come in. I’ve read your posts of encouragement, your posts of shame aimed at that station and everything in between and not only has it made me feel a bit less frustrated about the situation, it’s helped boost our Twitter followers and Facebook likes through the roof and will help ensure even more families get out and have their own sparkle tours this holiday season.

I will continue forward, steadfast in the mission to spread holiday cheer and give back to the world. I really would like this to behind us, it is the Christmas season after all and these negative actions, whether willful or ignorant, are not really conducive to what I envision when the snow starts to fall.

So get out there and enjoy the season and on your way home if you happen to see a display that you think is worthy of appreciation, do me a favor and grab it’s address for me, would ya?