Fred Willett, 87, surrounded by Winter Spirit Board members, pushed a lever that turned on more than a million lights. Every time I helped at the park or delivered pumpkin bars, Fred greeted me. He's Mr. Christmas Spirit! My brother, Larry, is one of the board members but he was not present on the stage. I imagine he was working behind the scenes to make sure the lights would turn on! The non-profit organization has been spearheading the annual lighting event for 18 years.
Tears always come to my eyes when I look around, hear Mannheim Steamroller music, and just stare in awe at the amazing trees covered in lights. I recall reading an Advent reflection reminding us that Jesus came into our world to push away the darkness and bring us into the light. The explosion of lights reminded me that His birth is the real reason we decorate and celebrate. I think the lights in the park push darkness out of many people's lives. Families and children enjoy walking through the arches. Even the elderly in wheelchairs and babies in strollers celebrated tonight. The pictures below are from the Winter Spirit website.
I'm filled with gratitude as I write this for all the volunteers and the "red shirts" from the prison who decorated all these trees and made it possible for the lights to push out the darkness in the valley for the next six weeks.
Thank you Winter Spirit!