Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Visitors from across the two Virginias and from as far away as New Jersey and Georgia lined up Thursday evening as the switch was flipped to officially open the Holiday of Lights.
Mercer County Commissioner Mike Vinciguerra and his granddaughter Abby Hamer, 15, flipped the ceremonial switch to officially begin the event.
“We really do enjoy this,” Vinciguerra said. “It’s great to spend time with my granddaughter. She asked me during the Italian Festival if we could do it again together this year. She had a lot of fun last year, and loves talking to everyone. I’ve worked it on Thanksgiving night for four years now. I love talking to everyone and seeing the expressions on the faces of the kids when they come through. Their eyes get so big. This event has grown so much. The volunteers did such a good job putting everything up.”
Visitors had already started lining up their vehicles for the opening night of the Holiday of Lights by 5:20 p.m. Vinciguerra said some visitors had come as far away as New Jersey, Georgia and South Carolina for the opening night of the event.
Danny Murphy, 28, of Princeton, came with his family including his two daughters.
“We come every year,” Murphy said. “It’s great. It’s a fun thing for the kids. Our little one was really enjoying it. She actually paid attention this year. They liked the train station as well as finding the 12 Days of Christmas throughout the park. I really enjoyed the nativity scene.”
Jody Scott, 35, of Princeton, also came with his family as part of a yearly tradition.
“My sons are 8 years old and 10 years old,” Scott said. “The dragon and the windmill were their favorites. It’s a tradition for us to come out to this every year. It’s good to be able to take the kids out and do something fun with them.”
Charles Ganoe, 66, of Princeton, said the Holiday of Lights is a trip down memory lane for him and his wife.
“Every year on Thanksgiving night we come out,” he said. “It’s one of our traditions. A lot of people say this is for the kids, but it brings out the kid in me. The park was one of the places my wife and I used to come when we started going together, so it’s always fun to come back.”
Jeff Martin, 25, of Princeton said his 4-year-old daughter was his main reason for coming to the Holiday of Lights.
“She loved counting all of the 12 Days of Christmas,” he said. “She loved all of them. I enjoy the lights and seeing her have fun.”
John McElroy, 32, of Bluefield, said his family enjoyed seeing the train station lit up.
“It was something for us to do,” he said. “The kids loved the lights; they always do. The little house at the train station was their favorite thing. Other big cities have things like this, so we need something like it in West Virginia.”
Linda Lindsey, 52, of Bluefield, brought friends from White Sulfur Springs to the Holiday of Lights.
“I come every year, but it’s the first time bringing them,” Lindsey said. “I just love the lights. The poinsettias are my favorite. It brings people to this area and it gives us something to do.”
The Holiday of Lights will also be hosting a walk-through and will also be hosting two events where the trolley will be run in the park along with visits from Santa Claus. The times and dates for these events have yet to be determined. For updates on events, visit the Holiday of Lights Facebook page.
The holiday of lights will be on display from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday until Dec. 31.
— Contact Kate Coil at email@example.com