LEWISTOWN - While the hustle and bustle of the holiday season kicks into high gear, a group of community volunteers is preparing an event that offers much-needed rest and relaxation.
Shining Light Through the Darkness, an annual lighted walking tour hosted by Freedom Avenue United Methodist Church, begins Saturday at Derry Township Community Park. The event continues from 5 to 10 p.m. daily through Jan. 4.
Event coordinator Darla Gray said the purpose of the month-long community outreach is to "get back to what the holiday means."
Sentinel photo by BUFFIE BOYER
Jeff Condron, of Lewistown, places reindeer on display Thursday for the annual Shining Light Through the Darkness display at Derry Township Community Park.
"We want you to be able to enjoy the holiday season," she said.
This year's walking trail begins with a new, illuminated tunnel over the entrance bridge leading to the park. From there, pedestrians can tour thousands of light displays including everything from single-color strands to multicolored ropes and blow-up decorations, Gray said.
A golf cart and volunteer driver is available to give rides to those who have difficulty walking. Gray recommended calling 953-1686 ahead of time to ensure that the cart will be available.
After a lap around the decorations, walkers can warm up with daily entertainment in the former scooter car building in the middle of the park. Next door, another heated room is set up with model trains, a Christmas village and a gingerbread house display. A food stand will also be available, serving hot chocolate and other snacks.
Gray said the event is free and funded through community donations of supplies and funds.
Last year, with the help of 350 volunteers, SLTD drew over 6,500 people to the park, she said. Even more are expected to attend the tour this year.
"You see a change in people from the time they get out of the car until the time they come back to the car," she explained.
The change is good, and the expressions on the faces of guests make weeks of preparation worthwhile, Gray said. Community response has been so positive that visitors from as far as California and Texas have come back annually to visit family and spend an evening in the park, she said.
Putting on an event the size of SLTD takes many helping hands and willing workers. Gray said preparations began Nov. 3 and help is appreciated throughout the duration of the event.
Volunteers are still needed to help fix and set up lights and displays, greet guests, work in the food stand, drive the golf cart and oversee the train and village room.
"Just come down and enjoy it, and just see the expressions," Gray said.
The entertainment scheduled for this year is:
Dec. 8 - Vdov Family at 7 p.m.;
Dec. 9 - Children's Make-It Take-It from 6 to 8 p.m.;
Dec. 10 -Duke Larson at 7 p.m.;
Dec. 11 - Susan Miriello hosts Children's Time at 7 p.m.;
Dec. 12 -Tim and Duane Show at 7 p.m.;
Dec. 13 - Drew Zimmerman at 7 p.m.;
Dec. 14 - Chris Ruble at 7 p.m.;
Dec. 15 - Lazy River at 7 p.m.;
Dec. 16 - Dog walk at 2 p.m.; Together in Praise and Tyler Stein at 7 p.m.;
Dec. 17 - Dan Yantz and Miranda Shoop at 7 p.m.;
Dec. 18 - Free For All at 7 p.m.;
Dec. 19 - Unusual Suspects at 7 p.m.;
Dec. 20 - Horse and wagon rides and caroling from 6 to 9 p.m.; Freedom Avenue United Methodist Church Choir at 7 p.m.;
Dec. 21 - Horse and wagon rides and caroling from 6 to 9 p.m.; Brush Mountain Band at 7 p.m.;
Dec. 22 - Horse and wagon rides and caroling from 6 to 9 p.m.; Unusual Suspects at 7 p.m.;
Dec. 23 - Christmas service by Lewistown Cluster of United Methodist Churches at 7 p.m.
For more information or to volunteer time or supplies, call Shining Light Through the Darkness at 953-1686 or Darla Gray at 635-0919.