By KATE COIL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Volunteers and city crews are hard at work to light up Bluefield City Park in time for the holidays.
Deb Sarver, organizer of the Holiday of Lights, said crews have been working around the clock to get everything done for Thanksgiving night.
“We have been working hard,” she said. “The crazy weather the other week has put us back a little, and we are down two employees. However, we will be open by Thanksgiving night. The city employees also have to split up their time between this and other park events like football and the train show. We have been fortunate to get the Day Report Center people from Princeton to come down here and help us work.”
Sarver said a lot of work goes into making sure each display is ready for the season.
“We have already replaced between 7,000 and 8,000 bulbs, and more will be replaced as we go along,” she said. “Some of the bulbs don’t keep their color as well as the others. A lot of the bulbs we can only get one year’s use out of. We are trying to save as many of the old bulbs as we can and rewiring some of the displays. We are also getting a lot of use out of the cable ties. We have already gone through 6,000 cable ties and have about 4,000 more. Many of these displays have had the same wiring for 10 years. We’ve refurbished and repainted some of the displays as well.”
Many of the larger displays involve several lighted pieces, Sarver said.
“The nativity scene alone has 15 pieces that go together to create the scene,” she said. “There are more than 200 pieces out there and close to 60 little scenes throughout the displays. Some of the scenes are huge, too. The sailing ships are probably one of our largest. All of our biggest stuff is now up.”
Sarver said the Holiday of Lights has received some new displays donated by electric engineering students and professors at Bluefield State College.
“The people with Bluefield State College have redone the snowflake arches this year,” Sarver said. “Each year they are working on a new display for us, which we are so grateful for. Having them bring in new displays is wonderful for the people who come through and gets the college students involved in the community.”
In addition to the new displays, Sarver said some old favorites will be back up and on display this year.
“Our original snowflakes and snowmen are up,” Sarver said. “They are the oldest displays from the very first Holiday of Lights. This year we also have the 12 Days of Christmas display back. People have been asking about them since they were blown over and damaged by the wind. This year, we are doing something different with that display. Instead of having them all together, we will have them in sequence throughout the park. It will kind of be like a scavenger hunt for people to see if they can find all 12 of them.”
Sarver said a very special guest from the North Pole is also set to make an appearance at the Holiday of Lights this year.
“This year there is a Facebook page set up for the Holiday of Lights,” she said. “We will announce then when we will have the walk-through and we will also announce when Santa Claus will be at the train depot. We will have the train running that night so people can ride it through the Holiday of Lights as long as the weather permits. So far, I think Santa will only be there for one night.”
Sarver said the Holiday of Lights has become a tradition for many families from the local area and surrounding communities and states.
“I do enjoy doing this,” Sarver said. “You know you are doing something for the community, and that it brings people into the area. This is a Christmas destination for many people. We have people from a 100-mile radius who come out to see this every year. It’s a tradition for many families to come here Thanksgiving night. People know that is when it starts and make it part of their family holiday.”
Sarver said volunteers are still needed to work the gate during the event, which lasts until New Year’s Eve.
“We are still looking for volunteers to work the booth throughout the event,” she said. “Anyone who is interested can call the city offices and put their name down to volunteer. It’s really a great way to give back to the community.”
Anyone interested in volunteering can call 304-327-2401 for more information.
— Contact Kate Coil at firstname.lastname@example.org