Councillor Carolyn Parrish finds space to house 600,000-square-foot show

Alexandra Shimo. Mississauga News. Thursday, October 27, 2022

“Billed as the world’s largest light exhibition, Illumi — A Dazzling World of Lights by Cavalia has arrived in Mississauga in time for Halloween. There are 20-million LEDs creating the elaborate light sculptures in a lot on Derrycrest Drive near the Mississauga/Brampton border.

The lights are used to create giant, glowing sculptures, across 600,000 square feet, about the same size as 10 football fields.

“Every step tells a story,” said the show’s creator Normand Latourelle. “It’s not like a museum. It’s very immersive. So the kids can not only see [the sculptures], but touch them.”

Because of the size of the show, it can be hard to find space for it in many city environments. After completing its run in Montreal, Latourelle called his friend, Mississauga Ward 5 Coun. Carolyn Parrish.

“I said, ‘I’ve got a show. I’m looking for a space.’ And a few days (later) she called me back, and said, ‘Well, call this man; he owns a site and it’s available.’ So that is what happened,” Latourelle said. “You know, sometimes you meet people like that who are very efficient.”

On arriving, visitors are greeted by a field full of multicoloured skeletons, skulls, gravestones, crosses and 3,000 jack-o’-lanterns. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” pumps through numerous speakers, energizing the crowd who walk through the display.

“It’s eye-catching,” said recent attendee Chloe Duval. “The fact that [my mom and I] saw it driving down the highway, it just looks really intriguing.”

Other attendees came for the atmosphere. “Everything is good,” said Ayushi. “Like lighting, music and the vibe we get here is soulful.”

There are 14 worlds in total, including a large field filled with hundreds of giant red spiders (not for the arachnophobic), a world of safari animals, arctic world and world of Hollywood.

Many of these are decorated with Halloween themes. At the “Happiest Farm,” there are giant pumpkins, light sculptures of red maple trees, orange bulls snorting steam, white plastic sheep, terrier dogs, pigs and a pink antique tractor decorated in lilac lights.

“This is what light has allowed us to do now, pushing the colours. And make [the experience] not totally realistic, but totally dreamlike,” said Latourelle.

Almost 150,000 attendees have visited the show since opening in September.

Mississauga is close to the airport, which helps the exhibition reach people from across Ontario, said Latourelle. The city is linked through highways 407, 401 and 410.

“Mississauga is so easy to access from everywhere in Ontario, actually from the south, the west, from the north, even from Toronto itself.”

“It’s awesome,” said Sherri Rishaur, a mother from North Bay who recently enjoyed the show.

“I went to pick up my daughter at university. We were driving home. We saw the lights and thought, we’re going to check it out. So honestly, it was a spur of the moment type of thing. It’s a really fun family activity, and you can bring your kids of any age here. Like I’ve got my five year old that I would love to bring back here as well.””