This year over 325,000 lights have been strung at Shore Acres State Park in Charleston as part of their 29th annual Holiday Lights. What began as simply stringing a “few strands of lights” in the formal garden has since become a community tradition. This year organizers expect to draw 40,000 to 50,000 visitors.
Although I had heard about the Holiday Lights before, it wasn’t until I talked with Shirley and David Bridgham, the co-chairs of the event, that I realized that this is entirely a walk through display. I’ve never been, but it is now on my list of “places to go and things to do.” As a walk through display, it not only about the lights, but it is also about taking it slow, being outside, and spending time amongst others in the community.
David and Shirley have been involved with the Holiday Lights since it began and they obviously love being a part of this event, which seems to take an enormous amount of their time and energy all year long.
While talking with them, I was impressed with their attention to detail. They have created an event which is unique and can only be seen at Shore Acres. Each of the 50 or more sculptures is original, and each is designed to “relate to who we are and where we are at” says David. From an animated sea lion jumping off a rock, to a bee buzzing about flowers, to an “undersea garden,” each sculpture has meaning.
Also impressive is the amount of community support and volunteers that help make the Holiday Lights happen each year. It isn’t just about putting up and taking down the lights. Volunteers are needed year-round to check and order lights, replace them, design and create new sculptures, and of course, to bake cookies, act as greeters, and donate, install, and decorate the Christmas trees.
If you would like to know more about the Holiday Lights, I spoke with the Bridghams for an article I wrote for Oregon Community Connection, which can be read here.
If you’ve been to the Holiday Lights, please leave a comment and let me know which were your favorite parts.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our own fledgling outdoor, walk-through light display at the Village Green Resort in Cottage Grove. It is also a free event, happening in their Wedding Garden from Thanksgiving through Christmas.
The Holiday Lights at Shore Acres run every night from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve, 4:00 pm to 9:30 pm. Shore Acres State Park is located at 89039 Cape Arago Highway, Coos Bay. The entire event is free however there is a $5 per vehicle parking fee for the State Park.
*All photos in this blog post were supplied by Shore Acres State Park.