Pine Needle Festival helps city install LED lights at Little Red

Festival organizer Mike Horn presented a donation of $18,564 to the city Thursday

Mike Horn and Deputy Mayor Don Cody pose for a photo in Little Red River park on Oct. 24, 2019. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

The Pine Needle Music and Mountain Bike Festival is doing its part to shine a light on Little Red River Park.

Festival organizer, Prince Albert Ski Club president and Fresh Air Experience manager and owner Mike Horn presented a cheque for over $18,000 to the City of Prince Albert Thursday to fund the replacement of 101 of the park’s old light bulbs with new LED trail lighting.

The donation comes from the total amount raised over the past two years of the festival.

“The festival is a unique event. We want to raise money and donate back to the city for the park, but we also want to get people out to the festival just to enjoy Little Red,” Horn said.

“It’s more (about) awareness and appreciation for the park. We have people from all over the province come here to participate. They come here … from outside Prince Albert (and) are blown away by what we have. Winter and summer, it’s something I think we kind of take for granted. There needs to be more investment, more awareness and more usage out here. It’s an incredible place to be.”

In addition to hosting six hours of cycling, the festival also has local food vendors and allows residents to attend to enjoy the music free of charge. It has raised $48,500 to date, funding a retaining wall along the river trail, new fire pits, a new water fountain/water bottle filling station at the Cosmo Lodge and now the new lighting.

“In the wintertime, when people are cross-country skiing on our trails, it gets dark quick,” Horn said.

“We get robbed of some time outdoors. The River Trail is fantastic for classic skiing and skate skiing. This way, it allows people to utilize those trails a little longer in the day.”

The switch to LED lights is also expected to save the city about $5,000 in power costs each year.

Deputy Mayor Don Cody said the project wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the Pine Needle Festival.

“it’s fantastic … and something that likely, we couldn’t have afforded on our own. This organization has done so much for the park,” he said.

“You’ve got to give Mike Horn a lot of credit for this. He has been out here for years organizing and doing all of this good work. Then, they give back. This park is not just for skiers, it’s for everyone. You couldn’t enjoy it nearly as much if it wasn’t for this organization’s money and help to make it the way it is.”

Horn’s contributions go beyond the festival.

The ski club works every winter to maintain 40km of ski trails. They also groom walking trails so people who don’t ski can also enjoy the park in the winter.

For his part, Horn was happy to help out. He’s passionate about the value Little Ried River park provides to the city.

“We’re very fortunate to have this park for everyone to use,” he said.

“You get summer and winter activities out here. People can just come out and explore the park. It’s right in our backyard. A ten-minute drive from your house and you’re in nature. It’s really close to me. I spent many years of my life growing up out here, riding and exploring the trails. You really get to know the park. It’s a special place.”