A record breaking year: Festival of Lights brings in over $70K in drive through donations

Drew Butler
The Daily Ardmoreite
This file photo shows a display at Ardmore's Festival of lights. This year visitors donated over $70,000 as they exited the drive through display.

It was a record breaking year for the Festival of Lights. While individual vehicles and the number of passengers inside those vehicles are not counted, the donations these visitors give as they exit the light display is. This year that figure was a record-breaking $71,584.67.

According to Ardmore Chamber of Commerce President Mita Bates, the Festival typically brings in approximately $55,000 in drive through donations, and the previous record highest amount was around $60,000. The additional money raised helped offset the loss of income caused by the cancelation of the Festival of Lights Auction last November.

“As you know we started this year with a little bit of trepidation because the very first thing we had to do back in September was cancel the auction,” she said. “We felt like it was prudent to do that, and we knew by doing that we would be losing some income because the auction typically nets between $13,000 to $15,000.”

Of the money raised from the drive through donations, $14,316.93 was divided between 15 nonprofit organizations that volunteered to work at the event.

“This event is really a benefit for our entire community,” Bates said. “Not only does it raise money for the Festival of Lights itself, it actually puts that money back into the community through the nonprofits.”

The event also brought in over $55,000 from the 56 display sponsorships and other smaller monetary contributions, and Bates said this figure was similar to years past.

“There were four new display sponsors this year, and there were 52 renewals,” she said. “That just shows how strongly the community feels about these displays and this event.”

Bates said after all the donations and sponsorships were taken into account and all of the expenses were accounted for, there is currently over $180,000 in the Festival of Lights account that can be used in the coming years. This number is similar to what was in the account last February.

The chamber is working with the Parks and Recreation Department to come up with new fundraising opportunities and events for the 2021 season.