Community Spirit

Bright smiles from community residents during Bright Lights 2022.
Photo Credit: Josh Gagnon

Discover how a couple in Bayside Estates helps to foster a sense of pride and camaraderie among their neighbours.

This time of year, we love to see our Genesis Land communities aglow in glittering lights and festive displays. There’s something truly wonderful about neighbours taking the time to decorate the exteriors of their homes and share in the collective celebration of the holiday season.

In this spirit, the team at Genesis Land has launched “Bright Lights 2022” in our Airdrie communities of Bayside and Bayview. Every night, we’re lighting up a number of the trees and bridges along our beloved canals, adding to the sparkle of the many decorated homes that line the water.

“There are so many people in our neighbourhood who like to go walking in the winter, and on a nice clear night, the lights are really nice,” says Bayside Estates resident Feras — he and his husband, Andrew, have graciously allowed Genesis to plug into their home to help power the Bright Lights initiative. “If [Bright Lights 2022] builds a sense of community and puts a smile on people’s faces, we’re all for it,” he says.

Feras and Andrew have been living in Bayside Estates for more than five years. Initially, it was Bayside’s unique system of canals and pathways, its large lots and its proximity to myriad amenities that drew the couple to the community. But now, says Feras, what they love most about where they live is the people.

“Bayside has such a great sense of community,” he says. “We’re so fortunate to have a lot of wonderful, amazing neighbours on our street. But really, no matter where you go in Bayside, people will say hello, they’ll stop to talk.”

For Feras and Andrew, nurturing and expanding this sense of camaraderie among neighbours is an important part of living in Bayside, no matter the season. In addition to decorating for Christmas, for instance, the couple goes all out on Halloween as well, adorning their front yard and porch with a massive, animatronic spider, black lighting and smoke machines for the hundreds (yes, hundreds) of kids who trick or treat in the neighbourhood.

For the last three years in a row, Feras and Andrew have also served as co-hosts — alongside Airdrie city councillor and fellow Bayside resident Heather Spearman — of Bayside Rocks, an incredible backyard concert meant to bring live music to the community.

The idea for Bayside Rocks came about in the first year of the COVID-19 epidemic when, out for a walk one day, Spearman and her husband noticed Feras and Andrew’s property and noted how perfect it would be for hosting a socially distanced concert. “Our lot is situated next to a large green space, and our backyard backs right onto the canal network,” explains Feras. “We also have a double bridge next to us, because the canal where we are splits into two and veers off into different directions.”

Spearman envisioned spectators watching the concert from the bridges, the green space, the nearby pathways and even from their kayaks and canoes on the water. Excited by the notion, she reached out to Feras and Andrew and asked if they would be interested in volunteering their large backyard patio as a stage for the band.

“Of course, we jumped on it,” recalls Feras. “We wanted to do it for the community, because we love getting to know our neighbours and bringing people together.”

The first Bayside Rocks concert was held in early September 2020 with around 100 people taking in the show. The event has been held every year since, each time with more Bayside residents in attendance. “This year [September 2022] was the biggest year yet,” says Feras. “I think there were probably around 300 people who came and watched.”

In advance of the concert, Feras and Andrew assist in fundraising efforts (usually a bottle drive) to raise money to pay the band, which is always a local group. “It’s pretty easy to fundraise in Bayside. People here are generous, and a lot of people pitch in to help,” says Feras, who is already looking forward to next year’s concert.

In the meantime, he and Andrew are happy to help brighten their community with sparkling lights throughout the holiday season. “It’s things like this that build a sense of pride and ownership of the place you live in,” Feras says. “And if you can keep that positive energy and sense of community alive and thriving, it makes coming home every day a lot nicer, too.