Displays are in place, and Christmas lights will come on for the holiday season during a celebration beginning at 5:30 pm Saturday night November 19th in Simpson Park of Chillicothe.
The tradition, called Festival of Lights, began in 2005 and continues each year because of support and generosity of many.
Businesses donate everything from electrical supplies and zip ties to allowing employees to come and decorate designated areas of the park. Donations from local foundations, businesses, memorials and individuals enable the committee to maintain and enhance Simpson Park each year.
Wreaths appear on light posts, garland on bridges, and colorful lights on trees.
Festival of Lights has three new displays! A new Santa display, with a big tennis racket coming out of Santa’s pack, was purchased with funds from the Scott Stephens memorial. Visitors can view Santa flying an airplane with a Merry Christmas banner. It was purchased with funds from the James Beemer memorial. The Nativity, while not new, has been enlarged and painted inside and out. A shepherd boy, a standing lamb, a resting lamb, and a resting donkey have been added. Additions to the Nativity were made possible due to funds from the Keith Ware memorial.
Most of the favorite displays will be back. Volunteers spent many hours this summer repairing and replacing burned out lights so that every display will appear shiny and new for opening night. It’s noted a few displays get retired each year and are to be replaced as funds are available.
Power issues at specific locations in the park were addressed in an effort to keep outages to a minimum.
A box has been set up at Simpson park to collect donations or they can be mailed to Festival of Lights, P.O. Box 10-32, at Chillicothe, MO 64601.
Festival of Lights committee members at Chillicothe are Barb Burton, Janet Barnhart, Marsha Beetsma, Kathy Gilliland, and Mary Lou Wilhoit.
The 12th annual Festival of Lights in Chillicothe kicks off Saturday, November 19th with the Lighting Ceremony at 5:30 at Simpson Park. The park will close to traffic beginning at 5 o’clock.
From 5:30 to 7 o’clock, there will be activities with Santa arriving in a horse-drawn wagon and will meet with children. There will be opportunities for photos.
Complimentary hot chocolate, coffee, and apple cider will be available.
There will be a countdown before a switch is flipped to turn on all the lights in Simpson Park. Lights are to be on every night through the holiday season including New Years.
Several pictures of the Festival of Lights are available on the Chillicothe Mo Facebook page.