Continuing its growing tradition, local nonprofit Lights 4 Hope Inc. will present its decorated drive-through holiday light spectacular at Okeeheelee Park at 7715 Forest Hill Blvd. during the upcoming holiday season. Opening night is set for Friday, Nov. 20.
More timely than ever in its third year, the event may be the season’s best respite for holiday celebrations during the pandemic.
In previous years, scores of cars began lining up just after sunset when the show opened, and last year, some 10,000 visitors took in the spectacle.
“As it is a COVID-19 friendly event, we are expecting many more spectators this year,” Community Relations Director Meghan Buser said.
She said that the volunteers, most of whom are first responders, devote their energies year-round to the effort, researching techniques and making much of the displays by hand so that it is better with each annual edition. The group of people who founded the organization have always had a passion for holiday decorating and wanted to find a way to transfer that joy to those in need during the holidays.
Most of the vehicles passing through the 1.5-mile course — which takes about 10 to 15 minutes — are filled with families supporting the organization’s causes and celebrating the season of lights.
“Those causes are to bring joy to children in the area,” said Buser, who explained that money raised by the nonprofit organization goes to create and spread happiness and hope, and brighten the holidays for those in need.
The money goes for a good cause, purchasing decorations and gifts for children who are hospitalized during the holiday season.
“You can’t visit hospitals like you could in the past,” said Buser, adding that the program brightens up the patient’s day.
She explained that this year, Lights 4 Hope is extending the efforts to those suffering lifechanging physical changes and expects to soon be helping kids with cancer as well. “It is a real community effort and a chance to give back to the area,” Buser said.
The magical celebration is also a chance for lucky good little boys and girls to spy Santa and get to wave as they go by. The price is just $12 per carload of up to eight people.
Event organizers hope the event grows each year, as it has, and provides the resources needed to provide presents, decorations and assistance to children and families in need. They are currently working out details to have a food truck on site to allow families to eat at the event. “It should add value to the evening,” Buser said.
Volunteers are also needed to help out before, during and after the event. “The installation alone takes about two weeks to prepare,” Buser said.
This year’s Lights 4 Hope’s Holiday Light Show operates Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from opening night on Friday, Nov. 20 through Friday, Dec. 27. The show opens at 6 p.m. and continues until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturday, and 9 p.m. on Sundays. Visit www.lights4hope.org for more info.