Festival of Lights sees increase in donations

Drew Butler
This file photo shows a display at the Ardmore Festival of Lights. Donations from guests driving through have been up this year because more people are going through multiple times. The nightly event will run through December 30.

The Ardmore Festival of Lights has been bringing in near record-level donations since opening for the season last month. Though official totals are not yet available, Teresa Ervin, Parks and Recreation director, said the amount of money taken in has been strong all season.

Though the event is free, local nonprofit organizations work the entrance and exit to the light display, and the donations are collected as guests leave the park. These donations are then split between the organization working the event and the Festival of Lights itself.

“Donations have been great — one of our best years so far,” Ervin said. “Based on that, I would say the number of people coming through has been really good, but we don’t keep track of how many people come though so it’s hard to say for sure.”

Ervin said that based on her observations the weekend nights in particular have been especially busy and the weeknights, which are traditionally much slower, are also remaining steady.

“One of the biggest differences this year is that almost everybody is giving something when they drive through,” Ervin said. “Though it’s not required or even expected, I know the groups that are working the event and park certainly appreciate their generosity.”

Ervin also believes that more people are driving through the festival multiple times this season.

“I think more people are driving through it more than once this year,” Ervin said. “I know some people go through it multiple times every year, but I think this year people are going though several times where as they didn’t do that as much in the past.”

She thinks events such as the Festival of Lights help to create a sense of normalcy and joy in a year that has been lacking both.

“It’s a Christmas tradition that people can still get out and enjoy just like they have in the past,” Ervin said. “It’s a great way for people to get out of the house and keep their social distancing while still getting into the Christmas spirit.”

The Festival of Lights will continue to run every evening through December 30. It is open Sunday through Thursday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.