Holiday in the Park opens

PARKERSBURG – Mother Nature helped the Mid-Ohio Valley welcome the Christmas season Saturday evening as snow fell during the annual Holiday in the Park opening ceremony at City Park.

“The snow puts everyone in the mood for Christmas and deer hunting,” joked Vickie Marshall, director of the Wood County Recreation Commission.

The snow, which left a small accumulation on the ground, began to fall just before the 6 p.m. program with strong winds and temperatures that hovered around freezing. Because of the outdoor conditions, those in attendance at the ceremony in the City Park horseshoe courts were bundled to keep warm in hats, scarves, heavy coats and children wrapped in blankets.

“I believe this is the first time it has snowed during the Holiday in the Park opening ceremony since I started doing this,” Mayor Bob Newell told the crowd. “It’s cold, but nice.”

Steve Cox, president of the Holiday in the Park board, said the snow would help showcase the lights displays that have taken thousands of hours to design, build and put up.

“With the snow falling, it looks like the perfect night for the lights to come on,” Cox said. “This (event) is the start of the holiday season for us, so the weather just works out well.”

For the past few weeks volunteers with the Holiday in the Park committee have been putting up the lights displays in both City and Southwood parks in preparation for the holiday season.

“The volunteers have spent hours and hours getting everything ready so people can enjoy driving through the parks,” Cox said. “We just hope everyone appreciates the lights.”

During the ceremony, Cox recognized volunteers Bernie and Linda Brookover as honorary chairmen of the Holiday in the Park board.

“They have done a fantastic job for us over the years and put in a lot of time and we want to thank them,” Cox said.

Along with the welcoming statements, the program included Christmas carols sung by members of the Hamilton Middle School Choir, a coloring contest with area schools and Santa and Mrs. Claus took children’s gift requests while handing out candy canes.

People also had the chance to see the lights in the open air with a ride in one of the Parkersburg Fire Department’s antique fire engines, which was available following the opening ceremony. The Henry Cooper Log Cabin Museum was also open during the ceremony, offering refreshments and music.

The lights displays set up throughout both parks are built by Farra Brothers Welding Co., which also constructed the Julia-Ann Square Historic District arches and a new bike rack to be placed in front of the Parkersburg Art Center on Market Street. Many of the lights include multiple pieces to be placed together for proper viewing, Cox said.

For this season, new displays include a 1923 Model T, a flying eagle, cartoon characters Tom and Jerry, a display of candles and poinsettias, a deer/cow, Mickey and Minnie, Hello Kitty and a campfire scene.

“There are a lot of new displays this year and I really hope people come out and look for them,” Cox said.

The lights displays will be lit from 6-11 p.m. daily through the end of the year and into the first of the new year.

A horse and buggy will be available throughout the season for a small fee to give people a unique perspective is seeing the lights, Cox said. Donations will also be accepted to help with the displays.