Deck the park: Festival of Lights returns to Regional Park
After months of preparation and many work days lasting well into the night, the annual Festival of Lights will be returning to Regional Park this Saturday evening. The 1.5-mile drive through light installation will feature over 150 individual displays and run every evening through December 30.
Ardmore Parks and Recreation Director Teresa Ervin said her crew has been working steadily since September 15 to make sure all of the displays are in place and ready to go when the first car drives through.
“We are all set for Saturday, and they are looking really good,” Ervin said. “Some of these displays have been here for 10 plus years, so there are a few where we’ve had to redo pretty much all the sockets. But now that we’ve got those repairs, they are absolutely beautiful.”
While much of the setup is already complete, crews will continue working throughout the rest of the week to make sure all the finishing touches are in place. Even after the festival is open, the work will not stop because minor repairs and adjustments are needed every day.
“There are two staff that are there every night,” Ervin said. “They’ll be working on what they can with the flow of traffic and making a list for everything we need to address the next day. That day they’ll be out there fixing everything, and when the park closes for the day at 5 (p.m.), that gives us one more hour to get everything ready.”
Ervin said thousands of vehicles drive through the Festival of Lights each year, and she believes this year might be the biggest year yet. Not only is it a great way for families to get out and enjoy themselves while social distancing, other holiday light displays in the area have been cancelled this year. For example, The Oklahoman reported on November 4 the Holiday Lights Spectacular in Midwest City had to be cancelled due to damage from the ice storm.
Ervin said she is incredibly thankful for the community’s support in making this year’s Festival of Lights go on as scheduled.
“We know that some people are really having a rough time this year, but our community has come through, and we’ve had enormous support from our sponsors again,” Ervin said. “We weren’t able to have our annual auction this year to put revenue into the Festival fund, but our sponsors have really been there for us. We’ve even added two more this week.”
The Festival of Lights will open on Saturday, Nov. 21 and run through Wednesday, Dec. 30. The hours are Sunday through Thursday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. It is free to drive through the display, however local nonprofit organizations will be collecting donations at the end of the drive. These donations will be split between the organization making the collections and a bank account dedicated to maintaining and adding to the Festival of Lights.
“We’re open every night — Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas — so these people are giving up their evenings and holiday evenings to come out and make sure everybody can enjoy the lights,” Ervin said. “Several of these groups have been here every year, so it’s important that everybody supports them as well.”